B.C. health authorities heard Wednesday they would not get the budget boost they desired this year, minutes after learning the province fired the chair of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority over a $40-million budget crunch.
Finance Minister Carole Taylor confirmed the health ministry's budget would increase by only 7.3 per cent.
"I don't think it's any secret the health authorities and others were asking for increases of nine and 10 per cent a year," Taylor acknowledged.
She said the budget increase works out to almost $900 million, which is roughly enough to cover salaries and population increases, but little else.
NDP health critic Adrian Dix said the increases announced by Taylor fall short of the much greater funding needs of B.C. health authorities.
"So either [Taylor] was misleading people about the cost of health care over the last few months,or we can expect a significant reduction in services," Dix said.
Taylor's health budget announcement came moments after Health Minister George Abbott told reporters in a brief statement that VCHA chair Trevor Johnstone would be replaced. Abbott saidB.C. would bring in new leadership tosolve the organization's budget woes, thenannounced former Teck Cominco CEO David Thompsonwould take over.
The beleaguered Vancouver health authority had planned cost-cutting measures earlier this month to trim down its $40-million deficit, but backed off after the public reacted in outrage to the plan, which involved closing three operating rooms and cancelling some elective surgeries.