June 24, 2024

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Despite record spending, performance plummets in healthcare and education in B.C.: study

2 min read
Source: Facebook

British Columbia spends more on the healthcare and education sectors than on any other sectors, yet performance in the two areas has decreased, according to data revealed in a Fraser Institute study.

According to the authors of the study, Ben Eisen and Milagros Palacios, healthcare accounts for 38% of B.C.’s provincial expenditures. Per-person spending has increased by 13.9% between 2016/17 and 2023/24. 

Despite this, the median wait times have increased between 2017 and 2023, from 26.6 weeks to 27.7 weeks.

Despite the national average increasing, access to health care providers also worsened in B.C. In 2015/16, 83.4% of British Columbians had regular access to a healthcare provider, compared to the national average of 83.6%. In 2019/20, however, this percentage decreased to 81.7% in B.C., while the national average improved to 85.6%.

The second highest area of public spending in B.C. is K-12 education. Between 2016/17 and 2020/21, spending per student increased by 12.9% in B.C., marking the second largest increase in Canada behind only Quebec.

“B.C. once led the country in province-wide standardized testing and demonstrated strong performance. However, in 2018, the province started to replace a mandatory exam based on course content in Grade 10 Math and English linked to graduation with broader low-stakes assessments in these topics,” read the study.

The Programme for International Student Assessment administers a worldwide assessment for 15-year-olds across various learning domains.

PISA equates a 20-point drop to a year of lost learning. Since 2015, British Columbia’s student scores have dropped at least 20 points in all three categories — reading, math, and science. 

Despite spending more than any other English-speaking province, throwing money at the problem has not made B.C. immune to student performance and healthcare decaying.

“This proves that throwing more tax dollars at a problem isn’t the solution,” said federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Franco Terrazzano. “Governments need to reform health care and education systems instead of taking more money from taxpayers.”

While the province’s spending hasn’t yielded fruitful results in healthcare or education, their public sector has flourished, potentially at the expense of the private sector.

Government sector job growth in British Columbia has greatly improved, while private sector job growth has remained stagnant. Using the most recent data, government employment in B.C. increased 29.6% between 2018 and December 2023. Meanwhile, private-sector employment has grown by only 5.8%.

Total private sector jobs as a share of the population over 15 years old has fallen by 2.4%, the largest decline in Canada.

British Columbia’s rampant spending previously resulted in three credit rating downgrades.


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