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Saunders Family Foundation looking to fix B.C.'s broken health-care system

More than one million people in B.C. are unable to secure a family doctor, and access to primary-care clinics is becoming harder by the day. But a Vancouver Island foundation has created what it is calling a playbook to end the ailing system.

“We can’t properly retain, recruit and attract doctors and nurses,” said David Saunders, president of the Saunders Family Foundation. “In Colwood, we don’t even have a family doctor in Colwood right now.”

Over the past few years the Saunders Family Foundation has been working with stakeholders to create a number of recommendations to fix the problem.

It has now created what it calls the Community Healthcare System Support Playbook.

At the top of the list of priorities is housing, says Saunders.

With the ballooning cost of housing and a desperate lack of supply, Saunders says if affordable housing could be provided, more health-care workers would be attracted to regions where that housing exists.

He hopes municipalities will adapt some of the ideas into their official community plans.

“On basically a weekly basis now, councils or mayors or community associations reach out to me” about the playbook, said Saunders.

He says the Ministry of Health is currently looking over the playbook as well.

“They have put it onto [Health] Minister [Adrian] Dix’s plate to look at and it’s come back in a positive role,” said Saunders.

“Our health-care system, like many rural communities, is fragile,” said Paul Adams, executive director of the B.C. Rural Health Network.

The Saunders Family Foundation has found an ally in the network. The two organization have now teamed up to help understand the needs in different parts of the province.

“For our organization a lot of the pieces that we see as being most significant is getting patients to care,” said Adams.

In many rural communities, a visit to a medical appointment could be a day's drive away.

“We’re finding more and more people just opt out of care,” said Adams.

Other solutions in the playbook include the creation of more affordable child-care spaces, the creation of purpose-built clinic spaces and help with the cost associated with filling those clinics.

“We need to provide solutions and we as a foundation have provided solutions and it’s that simple,” said Saunders.

Now it is up to governments of all levels and communities to implement some of those solutions in order to get our medical system back on the mend. Top Stories

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