Canadian health care crisis: B.C. Green Party leader shares frightening Edmonton ordeal

Across the country, provincial health care systems are dealing with major issues — and perhaps you’ve had to deal with it on a personal level too.

Long emergency room waits, trouble getting access to a family doctor, and excruciating delays to get an ambulance have seemingly become the norm.

The leader of the BC Green Party is sharing a frightening situation involving her teenage daughter, while on a family vacation in Edmonton last month.

Sonia Furstenau’s daughter was experiencing abdominal pain, and after a doctor at a walk-in clinic had a look, the family was off to the emergency room.

After waiting at one hospital for hours on end, they were forced to make their way to another hospital themselves — no ambulances were available.

Furstenau says they waited for 29 hours in the emergency room before her daughter was able to get surgery on a burst appendix.

“It’s really sobering that so many people right now cannot count on that care being there,” Furstenau said. “Either the ER is closed, the ambulance doesn’t come, there aren’t enough staff. What we saw in those ER’s were exhausted, overworked, overburdened staff.”

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While Furstenau has highlighted some of these situations in B.C., her experience in Alberta drives home the reality that many provinces are dealing with these issues.

“I, of course, have been very concerned about the conditions in B.C., and I understand fully that these conditions are happening across the country, but it made it very real to go through this,” Furstenau said.

“To experience how powerless a person feels in these situations — we’ve all lived most of our lives, that if you seek emergency care in an emergency hospital, you’re going to get the care you need.”

She says that she wants better compensation for nurses and paramedics as one part of addressing issues on the health care front line — pointing out administration costs have gone up in recent times.

“We have seen in B.C. a pretty dramatic increase in health administration costs,” Furstenau said. “There’s a lot of conversations right now about the number of vice presidents we have in each of the health authorities. We have the five regionals plus the PHSA. It’s really essential that the [B.C.] government demonstrates that they understand the value of the front line health care workers.”

In terms of Furstenau’s daughter, she has now recovered, but required five days in the hospital to recover after undergoing surgery.

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