I read the recent College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (CPSBC) annual report with some interest, borne of a recent experience with lengthy delays in the approval process for a personal medical corporation. I admit this may have colored my judgment somewhat with respect to the CPSBC’s stewardship of the resources it is given to protect British Columbians.
The financial statements attached to the annual report show $32.5 million in long-term investments, including $10 million in US equities and $5.8 million in international equities. There are no details on the reasons why a quasi-governmental organization with a captive payee base of physicians would require this level of savings. It is the $1725 medical licence renewal fees that ultimately pay the CPSBC’s operating expenses. Since these can be (and have been) increased arbitrarily, there should be no concern regarding a shortfall of funds.
Despite these investments, the CPSBC continues to collect the highest application fees in Canada for new registrants ($1290), in addition to the $530 fee from the Medical Council of Canada (www.mcc.ca/services/application-for-medical-registration). Once registered, physicians can look forward to paying their medical licence fee, for a total cost of $3545, before being able to see their first patient.
Most importantly, we are at crisis levels of physician shortfalls. My Facebook feed is full of colleagues desperately searching for a locum to cover medical and parental leaves. Inability to find coverage has a huge impact on quality of life, especially for family physicians. High registration fees are undoubtedly a strong disincentive for anyone considering a locum in British Columbia, especially new graduates interested in trying out practice in a beautiful new province.
It seems unconscionable for the CPSBC to be sitting on this rainy-day fund while the rain is pouring. The CPSBC has a mandate to protect British Columbians. It should review the impact of its fees on the family doctor shortage and consider reducing them rather than using them to play the stock market.
—Kevin Wade, CD, MD, CCFP(PC)
Read the College’s response in “CPSBC investments, fees, and impacts on members. College replies.”
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