In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Comox riding constituents, we have supplied all candidates with a question. Each week, we will publish their answers to questions pertinent to this riding.
In this article, the three Courtenay-Comox candidates address the following topic: “The shortage of family practitioners in the Courtenay-Comox riding is evident, and growing all the time. There are people in this riding who are travelling as far away as Parksville to see a family doctor. As the population grows, and aging doctors retire, this situation is becoming worse all the time. What does your party plan to do to address this shortage?” (300 word maximum). Order of placement was done at random.
Leanne moved here in 2006. It took her six years to find a family doctor under the BC Liberals. It did not get better with the BC Liberals’ failed “GP for Me” program. This is not a unique story. Thousands of people in Courtenay-Comox do not have a family doctor and those that do, often struggle to find same-day access to primary care.
John Horgan recognized that only 44 per cent of British Columbians are able to get same-day or next-day appointments with their primary care provider. That’s why, over the last three years, our BC NDP government has been transforming our health-care system, so people can get the rapid, quality and efficient health-care services that residents need and deserve.
In the Comox Valley, residents will benefit from a Primary Care Network, one of 39 PCNs across BC. The partnership of Island Health, CV Division of Family Practice, First Nations Health Authority, K’òmoks First Nation, Patient Voices Network, and Métis Nation BC developed the Network to better meet the identified high-priority needs of the Comox Valley- from chronic disease and chronic pain management, services for families and seniors who are frail and people with complex health issues, culturally safe care for Indigenous people, and more.
Over the next three years, residents in the Comox Valley will benefit from 285 family physician sessions, nurse practitioners, allied health professionals, registered nurses, clinical pharmacists, and Indigenous wellness liaison and advocate.
John Horgan and the BC NDP commit to increase the number of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals with a second medical school in BC. A re-elected BC NDP government will expand training in all health fields, and improve BC’s credential recognition process and licensing so that people trained in other countries can provide their skills and knowledge here in B.C.. Delivering what matters most to you!
Under the previous BC Liberal government, physician training spaces in BC were increased from 128 in 2003 (the lowest per capita in Canada) to 200 in 2004, 256 in 2010, and 288 in 2011. This number has not been adjusted since.
The BC Liberal government of the time prevailed on the UBC Medical School to expand their program. Of the two options either to build a new medical school or adopt a distributed campus model, the latter was the most expeditious to immediately expand the number of trainee positions. UBC medical school was expanded to UNBC and UVIC in 2004, then UBC Okanagan in 2011. The program was innovative in using large-scale videoconferencing in medical education.
Under the BC Liberals, the training spaces more than doubled using this program, which also focused on training physicians in communities in rural and northern BC. Considering that It takes a minimum of nine years to train one family physician from the start of university to active practice, and 13 years or more for a specialist, this was an expeditious approach to the physician shortage.
The BC student loan forgiveness program encourages physicians to choose to practice in rural areas. Funding adequate post-graduate positions to match undergraduate positions is critical. In 2018, there were 14 graduates out of 288 that were left out unfunded and unable to complete their education in a timely manner.
We need to expand teleconferencing with physicians, which has been accelerated during the Covid pandemic and look to other creative technological advances to have any immediate effect on this problem. Addressing and stabilizing local, and often resource-based, economies create thriving communities to live in. Under Andrew Wilkinson, a family doctor himself, and the BC Liberals, we will work to get the needs of our community’s healthcare back on track.
Everyone living in the Comox Valley deserves to have their own personal family physician.
For the past three years, the BC Greens have repeatedly said that the province-wide doctor shortage needed to be urgently addressed. Although the Comox Valley has attracted a number of family physicians over recent years, the population growth has eclipsed these recruitment efforts.
In addition to increasing the number of family physicians, the BC Greens support an integrated, multi-disciplinary healthcare system in which the same number of family doctors can serve a greater number of people.
In the 2017 agreement between the BC Greens and the NDP, which allowed for a stable government, the BC Greens insisted on the expansion of team-based health care, to ensure that people have better access to the type of care they need, including access to services from physiotherapists, nurse practitioners, midwives, dieticians, pharmacists and other health professionals.
The Comox Valley is one of the first communities in B.C. to be granted permission to create a Primary Care Network. The plan was developed locally, spearheaded by the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice, includes hiring up to 13 new full-time equivalent health-care providers. Health care services will be individualized to the needs of each person and will be delivered here in the Comox Valley.
Unfortunately, the NDP’s brazen power-grab and early election call during a global pandemic has caused a significant delay in the implementation of the Comox Valley Primary Care Network. Progress is effectively on hold for months while Premier Horgan forces British Columbians to participate in an election that no one wanted except him.
This is just one of the many broken promises of this NDP government, including flip-flopping on Site C and increasing oil and gas subsidies. British Columbia needs more Green MLAs to keep the NDP accountable.