Tag: B.C

Pharmacy Services in B.C. – Province of British Columbia

Last updated:  November 16, 2023

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How pharmacists can help you

In addition to consulting on and dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists can: 

What to bring to the pharmacy

Pharmacists are licensed health care professionals. They are bound by the same confidentiality rules as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Your health information and conversations are private and confidential.

Pharmacists can assess and treat 21 minor ailments such as UTIs, allergies, pink eye and dermatitis. The service is free for B.C. residents when provided in person, in a pharmacy.

Your visit may include:

  • a prescription
  • advice for self-management
  • a recommendation to see another health care provider

Minor ailments self-assessment checklist:

For severe symptoms or medical emergencies, seek immediate medical attention or call 9-1-1.

If your symptoms match one of the minor ailments below, you can book an appointment or visit a pharmacy for an assessment.

All the below for more than 7 days:

  • Stuffy or runny nose (usually clear and watery)
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, and/or throat

Read more about allergies at HealthLink BC.

  • Begins with itching, tingling, or burning sensation at border of lip. A cluster of fluid-filled, painful blisters soon appear, surrounded by redness Blisters then break, crust over, and usually heal within 7-10 days

Read more about cold sores at HealthLink BC.

(includes jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, nail infection)

  • Jock itch: Large, round, red patches with bumpy or scaly, well-defined borders, usually on upper inner thigh or groin. May spread to inner leg toward buttocks or toward stomach/abdomen. Commonly itchy, burning
  • Athlete’s foot: Commonly occurs between toes but may occur on other areas of the feet. May be itchy, cracked or scaly, inflamed or blistered skin that burns and/or hurts
  • Ringworm: Small, round, red patch with well-defined bumpy

B.C. Tories call for top doctor’s job over continued vaccine mandates for health-care workers

The Conservative Party of BC is calling on the New Democrat-led government to fire Dr. Bonnie Henry over a continued requirement that health-care workers in the province be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the legislature this week, Abbotsford South’s Bruce Banman — one of only two Conservative MLAs — accused the “extreme leftist NDP government” and its “unelected bureaucrats” of failing British Columbians with its mandate in the midst of a health-care crisis. He and party leader John Rustad, who represents Nechako Lakes, doubled down on their call on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'BC Greens remove deputy leader Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi for inappropriate tweet'

BC Greens remove deputy leader Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi for inappropriate tweet

“British Columbia is one of very few jurisdictions in the world that refuses to hire back unvaccinated health-care workers,” Banman posted on X.

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“We need these people in the system. We’ve got ERs that are shutting down, hospitals that are a mess … I think it is incompetent not to hire these people back and put them to work.”

The calls came just before the deputy leader of the BC Greens, Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi, stepped down for “liking” a post on X that compared Henry, the provincial health officer, to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who experimented on concentration camp victims during the Second World War. Gandhi has since said that the “like” was accidental.

“In mid-September, an individual I follow on X (formerly Twitter) posted a letter and comments, including an impassioned critique of healthcare delivery

Medical care is hours away in B.C. Why do people in Fort Liard, N.W.T., have to drive to Yellowknife?

In Fort Liard, N.W.T., residents are hopeful the next territorial government can address health care issues that plague the community — including one very particular to the community. 

Fort Liard has a small health centre and an occasional doctor, but residents need to leave town for any serious medical treatment.  

It is only a two-and-a-half hour drive to Fort Nelson, B.C., which has a hospital. But instead, Fort Liard residents are required to go to Yellowknife, a 10-hour drive, or fly to Edmonton. 

Resident Rose Betthale-Reid says the state of health care is bad across the N.W.T., but her community is in a unique situation. 

“Fort Liard’s got the worst of it, because we’re right close to B.C. border and we’re far away from Yellowknife,” she said.

Fort Liard resident Rose Betthale-Reid says her community is in a unique situation when it comes to health care. (Luke Carroll/CBC)

This hasn’t always been the case. Before COVID-19 there was an agreement between the B.C. and the N.W.T. governments to allow Fort Liard residents to access medical care in Fort Nelson. 

But when borders closed, so did the agreement — and it hasn’t been restored. 

What are the candidates saying? 

Fort Liard, pop. 500, is one of six communities in the riding of Nahendeh, and one of only two connected by a road year-round, the other being Jean Marie River. The riding stretches from Fort Liard in the territory’s southwest corner to Wrigley in the North. 

Six candidates are running for the Nahendeh seat, including incumbent Shane Thompson and challengers Sharon Allen, Josh Campbell, Mavis Cli-Michaud, Hillary Deneron and Les Wright. 

When CBC News asked each candidate to name their biggest issue for Fort Liard, two of them brought up the Fort  Nelson hospital. 

Thompson, who was in Fort Liard on Tuesday,

Keith Baldrey: Will Ottawa’s recent $1.2B B.C. health-care investment actually help?

Will Ottawa’s recent $1.2B investment for B.C. over the next three years actually help its health-care system?

At first glance, the deal reached with Ottawa for the federal government to spend another $1.2 billion in health care spending in this province over the next three years seems like, well, next to nothing.

After all, the B.C. government will spend close to $90 billion on health care in that same time frame so a $1.2 billion boost is in the neighbourhood of a tiny one per cent increase.

However, a closer look at where the money will be spent reveals it may end up having an impact that is disproportionately greater than measuring it in purely percentage terms.

That is because the bulk of the new money — about $300 million a year — will be targeted at boosting nursing levels in dozens of acute care facilities. In fact, the plan is to create an “innovative model of care” at 83 different acute care sites, most of them hospitals.

This should allow the implementation of “ratios” when it comes to nurses looking after patients, to better ensure that nurses do not get swamped with an unmanageable workload, as has been the case for years.

The patient roster problem has been around for years but has become especially dire in recent months, as hospital bed occupancy has ballooned to record levels that show no signs of abating.

For the longest time, having close to 10,000 people in hospital was something that occurred usually during respiratory illness season but over the normally “quiet” summer months the norm was about 9,700 people in hospital beds on any given day.

To address this growing problem, the health authorities are reclassifying “surge beds” into “base beds,” which means they will have dedicated staff (i.e., nurses) and

B.C. becomes first province to sign individual health deal with feds, worth $1.2 billion

Canada’s health minister is touting Ottawa’s new $1.2-billion bilateral funding agreement with British Columbia as a new model for federal-provincial co-operation to address the health-care crisis across the country.

Mark Holland said the deal focuses on finding answers to the challenges facing Canada’s health-care system instead of placing provincial and federal officials at odds over who’s in charge in each jurisdiction.

“Look, I get that we want to think about jurisdiction and we want to protect jurisdiction,” Holland said at the signing of the deal with B.C. at Vancouver General Hospital on Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, health is health, and we all have a responsibility to find ways to work together.

“I’m not looking to walk around with a stick and be aggressive towards provinces. I want to work with provinces and territories. I want to find solutions. So that isn’t about intruding on jurisdiction. It’s about being partners.”

The agreement is part of a $196-billion, 10-year national health accord that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered provinces in February.

Quebec is the only province that hasn’t agreed in principle to the accord, as Premier Francois Legault has bristled at being held accountable to Ottawa for reaching certain health-care targets as part of the deal.

Holland said talks with Quebec are ongoing.

Money to address nurse-patient ratios, doctor retention

The agreement with B.C., where the $1.2 billion in funding will be shifted to the province over the next three years, comes with an action plan covering the same period to develop “an innovative model of care” at 83 acute-care sites, mostly hospitals, that would allow nurses to spend more time with patients.

BC Nurses Union president Adriane Gear said the model in the action plan refers to the establishment of minimum nurse-patient ratios, which was part of

Should the B.C. government lift the COVID-19 vaccination mandates for health-care workers? – Poll

Poll: Health care mandate

Castanet – | Story: 448062

Union of BC Municipalities delegates voted Sept. 21 against calling on the B.C. government to lift COVID-19 vaccination mandates for health-care workers.

A resolution said B.C. is one of the last remaining provinces in Canada requiring a vaccine mandate for health-care professionals. This has exacerbated a shortage of health-care workers due to dismissal of those workers who refused vaccination.

The resolution said the government should lift the mandate and allow those workers to return to work to lessen the strain on the health-care system.

Speakers spoke passionately both for and against the resolution, presented at this week’s annual UBCM convention in Vancouver; numerous people against the resolution said the issue is one that belongs to public health officials, not politicians.

“This is a health issue,” Victoria Coun. Dave Thompson said. “We need to stay in our lane as city councillors.”

He said the issue needing to be addressed is paying more and providing improved working conditions.

Health-care workers “of all people” should be following medical guidelines, added Saanich Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff.

Saanich Coun. Karen Harper spoke against the resolution. She’s been spending a lot of time with her 95-year-old mother in hospital recently. She wants to know that her mother is not going to be infected because someone chose not to be vaccinated.

“This is a decision that should be left up to medical professionals,” she said.

Mark Gisborne, director on the qathet Regional District said he’s double vaccinated — and works in health care.

However, he said the vaccinated workers’ situation has led to workers moving between areas and leaving smaller places with inadequate services. And, he said, it has led to a decreased workforce.

“I’m exhausted,” he said.

B.C. takes positive steps to protect people’s health data

British Columbians health information was “disturbingly” vulnerable, privacy commissioner Michael McEvoy said in December.

B.C.’s privacy commissioner says the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) has taken positive steps to strengthen the privacy and security of the Provincial Public Health Information System.

“Every day, hundreds of health-care workers and policymakers across B.C. access the system,” commissioner Michael McEvoy said in the report.

“It is critical not only for the protection of British Columbians’ information and privacy rights, but also for the continued delivery of essential services without disruption, that robust privacy and security controls be in place for the system,” he said.

The follow-up comes in the wake of an Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s December 2022 report that found the PHSA’s failure to address security and privacy vulnerabilities put British Columbians at risk.

There, the office said the system and the citizens’ information it contains are vulnerable to malicious attacks or employee abuses.

In a report released Dec. 15, 2022, McEvoy said there are many areas where the system is vulnerable.

“The system contains some of our most sensitive health information — matters relating to our mental and sexual health, infectious diseases and more,” McEvoy said. “It is imperative that the (Provincial Health Services Authority — PHSA) put in place commensurate security measures to protect British Columbians from potential harms.”

That report made seven recommendations, including that the PHSA:

  • acquire, configure, and deploy a privacy-tailored proactive audit system;
  • ensure a multi-factor authentication solution meeting provincial standards is used to log onto the system;
  • encrypt personal information within the database at rest; and,
  • create appropriate written security architecture that includes full systems design documents and operations manuals for each component of the system.

Now, the office said, the six-month follow-up shows two recommendations fully

Advocates, migrant workers help fellow migrants know their labour rights, health-care entitlement in B.C.

Workers’ rights advocates say many migrants know little about labour rights and British Columbia’s health-care system — information they say is not readily available for newcomers to Canada and the province.

“One of the saddest things that I see is workers do not know their rights,” said Claudia Chavez, health co-ordinator for Dignidad Migrante, an organization run by foreign workers to help other foreign workers. 

The organization, together with non-profit DIVERSECity, held a community fair last weekend offering informational presentations and other services like free massages and haircuts.

The fair’s focus was connecting workers with health-care information and resources.

About 100,000 temporary foreign workers come to Canada each year through the country’s temporary foreign workers program, with a third of those working in B.C., mostly in the agriculture sector, according to the organization.

More than 70,000 agricultural workers came to Canada through the program, most from Mexico, Guatemala, Jamaica, Thailand, and the Philippines, according to Statistics Canada.

A woman stands at a fair in a yellow shirt.
Claudia Chavez is one of four doctors who volunteer with Dignidad Migrante, offering advice, resources, and Spanish-English translation to migrant workers in B.C. (CBC)

Volunteers say some of these workers find themselves in precarious, even dangerous, working conditions, often without knowledge of where to turn to for help. 

“Some of them work 16 hours [a day] and they don’t know that they’re overworking, and that’s not legal,” said Chavez, who is part of a team of four volunteer doctors giving advice to migrant workers, connecting them with health resources, and providing medical translations. 

Her team helps migrants apply for B.C.’s Medical Service Plan, which Chavez says many are not aware they are entitled to. 

She says some migrants do not report work-related injuries due to a lack of knowledge or out of fear of losing work. 

“They feel if something happens

B.C. health-care: Why some B.C. nurses are leaving hospitals

Karen Tan’s life looks a lot different today than a few years ago. Having worked at BC Children’s Hospital for 12 years, the registered nurse now manages and treats clients at SOMA MD, a medical spa in Surrey.

“I just felt over the years, just an increased amount of burnout, just feeling really tired physically, emotionally. Shift work was really hard,” she told CTV News.

It was a natural transition for Tan as she’s still able to apply her skills and experience as an RN.

“I do injections with Botox and fillers now. We do hair restoration therapy, so I draw clients’ blood. I inject their blood,” she explained.

“And I also do IV vitamin drips. A lot of the same clinical kind of skills that I did in the hospital, just for very different reasons,” she continued.

For Tan, it became clear that she wanted more routine and a job that offered a better work-life balance, so she decided to leave her job at the hospital just before the pandemic.

“Just having that regular sleep-wake schedule was so important for me. And having a young family, taking care of my daughter,” she said, adding that it was a challenge before with shift work.

She said her current role isn’t necessarily easier, but one that she’s more passionate about, noting that she took a pay cut to work in the aesthetic industry.

Tan is also one of a growing number of nurses in the province who are leaving the profession, in favour of spas, cosmetic clinics and other private medical practices.

The vacancy rate for B.C nurses is currently 28,335 — a significant jump from five years ago when the rate was 8,870.

“We need to make working conditions

Cyberattack on B.C. health employer websites may have taken personal information

A cyberattack on three websites hosted by the Health Employers Association of British Columbia may have seized the personal information of thousands of people working or applying to work in B.C.’s public health care sector.

Michael McMillian, CEO of the association, said stolen information could include social insurance numbers, home addresses, passport and driver’s licence details, along with other personal information. He said 240,000 email addresses alone were possibly taken.

The cyberattack targeted three websites recruiting physicians, nurses and other health professionals: Health Match B.C., Locums for Rural B.C. and the B.C. Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.

B.C. has been on a major recruitment drive to attract desperately needed health-care workers to the province. 

One of the compromised sites was used to recruit physicians, registered nurses and other health professionals on behalf of health employers. The others helped with vacation coverage for rural doctors and registered care aides working in places including long-term care facilities.

“I sincerely regret this event happened and I want to reassure everyone that we are working with cybersecurity and privacy experts to address the incident,” said McMillian.

“We know that not all of the information in the potentially affected databases was taken, however, at this time we are not able to conclusively determine which information was involved,” he said.

Individual health records have not been affected and the breach is not associated with a ransomware attack, according to McMillian. For now, anyone wanting to register for the programs won’t be able to do so online but can contact the programs directly, he added.

In the aftermath of the cyberatttack, a message on the BCHEA website says the affected websites are down for maintenance.
In the aftermath of the cyberatttack, a message on the BCHEA website says the affected websites are down for maintenance. (BCHEA)

The CEO said the association will reach out to everyone whose information may have been compromised over the next

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