Experts tell us that spending more money does not necessarily produce better results. Economies of scale can be achieved through creating centralized wait lists, moving from a paper system to electronic technology to share information, addressing the staffing shortage and in some cases, the facility and equipment shortages. We can solve health care problems, including excessive wait times for surgeries, within our public health care system, as they are doing successfully in Alberta (hip and knee replacement programs) and many parts of Europe.
These steps can help in reducing wait times, but the truth is that Canada does not have enough doctors, nurses, radiologists and other health care providers. Short-sightedly, government cut back on the training of doctors in the 1990s and failed to help fast-track the certification of foreign-trained doctors and nurses. Now Canada ranks among the lowest of 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in the ratio of doctors and acute care beds per thousand people. In some parts of Canada, 60% of people have no family doctor. We know it is hard to find a family doctor if you have newly arrived on the Saanich Peninsula, and Galiano Island has not had a doctor in residence for over a year. It is a matter of training more doctors and ensuring better allocation of doctors—more family doctors, fewer specialists and channeling more doctors into working in rural areas.