Christy Clark era in B.C. marked by longer wait times for knee replacements and cataract surgery

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      A new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that wait times for certain medical procedures have gotten worse in B.C.

      In 2016, only 61 percent of patients in Canada's westernmost province received a hip replacement within the national benchmark period of six months.

      That's down from 80 percent in 2012, which was a year after Christy Clark became premier.

      Across Canada, the percentage receiving hip replacements within six months only fell two percent to 79 percent.

      The information was included in Wait Times for Priority Procedures in Canada, 2017.

      The report also noted that only 47 percent of B.C. patients went into surgery for a knee replacement within the "medically accepted wait time" of six months in 2016.

      That's down from 74 percent five years ago. Nationally, the percentage only fell from 76 percent to 73 percent.

      The situation also deteriorated for B.C. patients waiting for cataract surgeries.

      In 2012, 85 percent in B.C. received cataract surgery within the benchmark period of 112 days. That fell to 66 percent by 2016.

      Across Canada, the percentage who had surgery within the 112-day period fell from 83 percent to 73 percent over five years.

      There was a slight improvement over five years when it came to hip-fracture surgery: 86 percent of those needing this treatment in B.C. were in the operating room within a benchmark of 48 hours. That compared to only 81 percent in 2012.

      This matched the rise in the national average.

      And 91 percent of people in B.C. needing radiation therapy were able to receive it within the 28-day benchmark. That was down from 94 percent in 2012.

      Nationally, 97 percent were able to receive radiation therapy within 28 days in 2016.

      After Clark became premier and appointed Mike de Jong as finance minister in 2011, they sharply reduced percentage increases in funding to regional health authorities compared to the increases granted during the Gordon Campbell era.

      Regional health authorities are responsible for, among other things, operating B.C. hospitals.

      In most years, Clark and de Jong have also held the line on funding increases to public postsecondary institutions. This has given college and university administrators an incentive to try to fill spaces with foreign students who pay higher tuition than domestic students. This enables these institutions to balance the books while meeting the obligations of collective agreements with staff and faculty.