It was only a couple years ago, just before COVID, that I met the most amazing couple. I was introduced to them through a mutual friend and got to know them in a couple of meetings.
They were from India and were looking to emigrate to Canada. They wanted to know about various businesses, and which industries were the most viable to invest in. I was struck by the conversation and the depth.
When I asked them about their training and past employment history, I learned that they were both medical specialists - a pathologist and a cardiologist. I urged them to investigate coming to the Okanagan in their current occupations as doctors, as I knew how desperate we were for medical capacity.
Fast forward to just over three years.
They have immigrated to BC, but are severely under-employed.
Despite their expensive and extensive education, the wife (the pathologist) is working in a grocery store as a clerk and the husband (the cardiologist) is working as a taxi driver.
When I learned of this last week Monday night (during my “politics and pizza” event) my heart broke and my stomach turned.
We need grocery clerks and taxi drivers, but not when they are trained doctors.
We can all agree that the health care system is in crisis, and we need to make changes immediately.
Over the past couple of months, the BC Liberals have called for a BC Liberals’ 30-day action plan to address the crisis in primary care.
These were measures that would help to release some of the pressure immediately, and start working towards the ultimate goal of attached, longitudinal care.
In addition to these measures, we have now even furthered our plan. These new measures would include the following:
Expand doctor training spaces at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Medical School from 288 to 400 where, currently, there have been zero seats added under the two-term NDP government;
Fulfill the NDP’s broken promise to create a second medical school at Simon Fraser University (SFU);
Drastically increase the number of residencies available for international medical graduates (IMGs) from 56 to 150 with the goal of continued expansion;
Reduce barriers for internationally-trained physicians who have passed the initial Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam (MCCQE);
Expand the capacity of the Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA-BC) program for internationally-trained doctors;
Support more collaborative team-based care; and
Consult with physicians, pharmacists, and stakeholders on expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists and allow them to assess and prescribe medications for minor ailments within a team-based care model.
Both sets of measures would help to get foreign-trained doctors (like the ones I mentioned before) accredited here in Canada. But ultimately, would help to increase the health of British Columbians by having them employed as doctors.
And that is the ultimate goal.
To serve the patient, and the residents of BC.
My question to you this week is this – what measures do you think should be used to increase primary care in BC?
I love hearing from you, and read every email you send me! You can email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call me at 250-712-3620.