BC negotiations: A deterrent to new physicians

I recently sent a letter reflecting the below concerns to the Hon. Michael de Jong.

I am currently completing my family medicine residency in Ontario and am soon to be a fully trained family physician looking for a community to practise in. I am originally from BC and would love to return; however, I have been closely following the pro­gress of negotiations and interactions between the BC government and the BC Medical Association. 

The objectives that the BC government has laid out seem to me to be very counterproductive, and seem to likely result in deterioration of the health care system in BC. I had hopes that the negotiations in BC would address some of the concerns I had, but I see that the situation is only going to get worse.

The BC government is asking for physicians to be required to put their lives on hold and do call, but it doesn’t want to commit to pay them for their work. It’s important to remember that most of these physicians are not paid a salary: they’re paid for the individual tasks and services they provide, and as such the BC government wants to require them to work for free. 

Worse yet, this work generally happens in the late evening or middle of the night, with a profound impact on these phy­sicians’ personal and family lives. The BC government wants the ability to veto spending plans with no recourse for resolution of the resulting impasse, and wants current initiatives to be guaranteed to continue and to expand while refusing to provide the funding for these programs should they continue or expand. 

Furthermore, the BC government wants to be able to change what physicians are paid for their services without consultation to their representative body, the BCMA.

These are only a small number of the alarming changes I’ve heard that the BC government has pushed for, which have caused me to lose faith in the BC government’s commitment to establishing a robust health care system. As such, unless things change significantly, I have little intention of returning to BC despite wanting to live there for many other reasons. 

I truly do hope that negotiations improve, and the BC government begins to work to create a healthier system in BC that is an attraction, rather than a deterrent, to new physicians.
—Benjamin Martens, MD
Kingston, Ontario

Benjamin Martens, MD,. BC negotiations: A deterrent to new physicians. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 10, December, 2011, Page(s) 521 - Letters.

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