Access to healthcare
Access to healthcare
Expanding access to healthcare
Access to healthcare is a critical aspect of people’s human rights, well-being, and dignity. In order to meet the needs identified by communities, access to healthcare must be expansive, equitable, and effective. BC’s healthcare system must provide a full spectrum of healthcare and deliver these services without stigma and discrimination.
Long-term underfunding of the healthcare system and systemic inequalities have worsened access to healthcare services and health outcomes for people in BC. This includes a shortage of healthcare providers, privatization of services, long wait times, and a lack of access to mental health and harm reduction services, among many other concerning issues. The communities we work with have called for transformative changes to ensure that a full spectrum of care is available that is equitable, affordable, and importantly, non-coercive.
BC’s healthcare system has also been criticized for perpetuating stigma and discrimination. Our advocacy on access to healthcare is attentive to the ways in which the healthcare system and service providers have discriminated against Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, people with disabilities, women, girls, trans people of all genders, Two-Spirit people, intersex people, gender non-binary people, and gender non-conforming people. People must be able to obtain services that promote their well-being without judgment, bias, or discrimination. The healthcare system must also advance substantive equality by meeting the distinct needs of people who experience intersecting forms of marginalization.
Our vision of healthcare is also wholistic. Healthcare services and supports must meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and cultural needs of Indigenous peoples, including Two-Spirit people. Meaningful, accessible, and sustainable wholistic health and wellness services must be available to Indigenous people across BC.
Work in progress
Our work on access to healthcare responds to community calls for action and the issues we observe across BC. The available care options vary considerably—in quality and quantity—across different regions. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the inequities and gaps in our healthcare system that disproportionately impact the health outcomes of the people already facing the greatest systemic oppression.
We believe that gender-affirming healthcare is a human right. All people are entitled to access comprehensive healthcare that is respectful, well-informed, available without unreasonable delay, and culturally appropriate. Trans people and people who are marginalized because of their gender experience significant health disparities due to stigma and discrimination that decreases the quality of care they receive. In light of the harm caused by medical approaches that discriminate against trans people and people who are marginalized because of their gender, as well as the systemic barriers that exist for trans people to access affirming and respectful care, gender-affirming healthcare is needed in all healthcare contexts, not only for transition-related care.
People have a right to make autonomous decisions about their bodies, including about their reproductive health. This includes a core fundamental right to equality, privacy, and bodily and psychological integrity. These rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human rights law and by international covenants and standards to which Canada and BC are accountable. Substantive equality in reproductive health includes access, without discrimination, to abortion services and free, quality contraception, including emergency contraception. Access to sexual and reproductive health, including assistance in becoming a parent, is essential to the full personhood of all women and people who experience gender-based discrimination.
All people are entitled to provide free, prior, and informed consent to healthcare. This is especially essential for Indigenous people, Black people, people with disabilities and intersex people, who have faced egregious medical experimentation, pathologization of difference, and eugenics, and whose freedom to choose when and how they engage with healthcare services continues to be compromised by racism, ableism and hetero- and cis-normativity. Children and youth are likewise entitled to the progressive realization of their right to make fundamental decisions about their physical and mental health.