B.C. officials have announced changes they say will allow more foreign-trained and certified doctors to work in the province, a move meant to help mitigate the crisis in family medicine.
In a Sunday news conference, Premier David Eby said too many of these professionals are sitting on the sidelines while too many people are not getting the care they need.
“The pandemic has exposed underlying challenges and added new strains to our public health-care system, and too many British Columbians are struggling to find a family doctor,” Eby wrote in a statement.
“Meanwhile, family doctors trained outside of Canada aren’t able to practise family medicine, because they lack a pathway to be licensed here. We need to fix this.”
The practice ready assessment program, which allows family practitioners trained outside of Canada to get licensed in B.C., will expand from its current 32 seats to 96 over the next 16 months.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC will also create a class of license for “associate physicians” who will be allowed to practice under the supervision of a licensed doctor within provincial acute-care settings. In addition, the college will allow physicians who have three years of training in the U.S. to practice in settings such as community clinics, urgent and primary care centres, and family practices.
It is estimated as many as one million British Columbians do not have access to a primary care provider, with an additional million waiting for specialist care.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands without access to consistent care, the crisis has led to increased pressure on struggling and short-staffed 911 centres, ambulances, and hospitals