Supporting primary care on the Saanich Peninsula

Dec 15, 2018 | Blog | 6 comments

There is a growing primary healthcare crisis on the Saanich Peninsula.

Exhausted doctors are calling and emailing. Exasperated constituents are calling and emailing.

A primary challenge!

One clinic has closed and others are straining under the pressure. Due to the lack of primary care services, clinic doctors are increasingly being called upon to deal with more complex health issues on a drop-in basis. Certainly, this is not ideal!

The overflow is spilling into the emergency room at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, which is also almost ready to burst.

This situation has been growing over the past decade due to neglect. Neglect from the provincial government. And, now the system (at least locally) is showing signs it is ready to crash.

It is a big, complex, bureaucratic mess. It involves a lot of money, how people are paid and the most difficult challenge of all… change.

What can we do about this?

The provincial government needs to get control of this situation. It is out of hand. But, we must start at the core and work our way out. The previous government made grand promises and tried to solve the “wicked problems” with just a little tinkering around the edges. They failed.

There are incredibly thoughtful and caring people in healthcare. It is a mistake to marginalize them. Change is difficult and if we are going to be successful we need to create a collaborative environment rather than a confrontational one.

Blunt force will only harden hearts and further entrench the status quo. As you can see it will not be easy. But, on the Saanich Peninsula it is necessary. Time is running short.


(This past October I asked Health Minister Hon. Adrian Dix about the situation. Check out the blog post.)

What can you do about this?

In the short-term, you can continue to tell your stories. Share them in the comment section below. Each story helps me with my advocacy on behalf of our community.

You can also support the Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Healthcare Foundation (SPHF). The SPHF is a powerful organization. They ensure the community involved in our hospital.

The SPHF have recently expanded their mandate to include healthcare services. Their annual campaign focus is on primary care, increasing access to family doctors, on the Peninsula.

Their annual fundraising campaign got a welcome boost thanks to Don and Ruth James and the James Family Foundation.

They are matching up to $650,000 in donations.



Indeed, this is an awesome commitment by the James family. On behalf of our whole community, HÍSḴW̱E (Thank you).

Please consider making a contribution.

Clearly, there is a need for a lot of heavy lifting in 2019. Healthcare is my top priority and it will be the featured work of your constituency office for the foreseeable future.

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  1. Claire de Grasse

    My family doctor in Sidney retired over 6 years ago (At the age of 72!) and I was lucky enough to find a GP in Brentwood Bay. Sadly, she went back to specialty practice after 14 months and the GP she brought in to take over her practice closed it down 6 months after taking it over. End result: I have been without a GP since for over 5 years. This is a particular problem for me since I have MS. The walk in clinic that I had been using for the past 5 years just recently closed their doors. So, I am back to looking for ANY family doctor!

    • Adam Olsen

      Thank you for sharing your story Claire.

  2. Julie Morris

    The situation in Saanich Peninsula is very dire indeed. When I went into the recently-closed clinic and pleaded for my sister-in-law to be able to take my recently deceased husbands slot with a primary GP, I learned that even the employees of the clinic do not even have a primary GP! Perhaps building permits should be tied to a GP ratio? How can our population continue to be increased without proper medical infrastructure to handle it! Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula have very limited diagnostic capabilities and long wait times. I can understand waiting for a hip replacement for an elderly patient but I have seen time and again our youth and teenagers having to wait an excessive amount of time, even dropping out of their Secondary School while they wait for a procedure at BC Children’s in Vancouver. I was raised and worked in the US medical system and I have become so concerned about BC health care that I’m seriously considering moving. The doctors and nurses are very understanding and wonderful, but the diagnostic capabilities are a huge shortfall. Once you get a diagnosis, especially if cancer the treatments are wonderful! I am still in the middle of a major medical crisis with my daughter so wish I had time to write more letters to newspapers and the health Minister but have not yet had the energy. Thank you for allowing me a space to briefly tell my story here Adam.

    • Adam Olsen

      Hello Julie. Thank you for sharing your story. You make a great point. There needs to be far more attention paid to development and service delivery levels. Healthcare, eduation, transportation are all impacted by rapid growth. Good planning and coordination with provincial services is a good start.

  3. Darleen

    My family doctor retired in August 2018 and I was lucky enough that she set me up with a surgeon before that date. I recently underwent surgery and will require continual follow-up of the condition.
    Thank you for bringing forth the crisis we have on the Saanich Peninsula in the House. I was not awe-inspired by Adrian Dix’s response. While it is nice to hear about the Nurse Practitioners, I was given reference to one back in August and she is so over whelmed that I have not been able to have an initial meeting with her, and suspect will not be taken on as a client due to her workload.
    I note that John Horgan has a model primary care clinic up and running in his area, while Saanich Peninsula is trying raise private funds for a clinic. As taxpayers, should we be paying for both models?

    • Adam Olsen

      Thank you Darleen. I has been a struggle on the Saanich Peninsula for sure. Premier Horgan has an urgent care clinic which is slightly different but we need movement in our riding for sure!


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