BC Health Coalition applauds the new team-based primary health care strategy

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May 24, 2018

Team-based strategy will ensure faster and more appropriate care

For immediate release

Vancouver, BC – Unceded Coast Salish Territories 

The BC government announced today a major investment in the new primary health care strategy to improve access for British Columbians. Team-based care is central to the new primary health care strategy. This announcement indicates a change of approach and a system-wide transformation of primary care.

Primary health care is a major priority for BCHC members. Over the past few months, the BC Health Coalition has been actively working with Ministry of Health on primary health care. The BCHC has been a strong advocate for community and patient participation in health care development.

“Primary health care is not one size fits all. People need to be able to access the type of health care worker that can best address their needs–this might be a physiotherapist, a social worker, a pharmacist, or a doctor,” says Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “Providing team-based care will better meet the needs of British Columbians.”

As part of the new strategy, the BC government is implementing primary care networks, urgent care centres and community health centres. Continue reading

China caring for our seniors

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Colin Dacre – May 26, 2018 / 5:00 am | Story: 227232

Photo: Retirement Concepts

Local politicians are sounding the alarm about the level of care being provided to seniors at a care home in Summerland now owned by the Chinese government.

The Summerland Seniors Village is one of 21 B.C. facilities owned by Retirement Concepts, a company purchased by China’s Anbang Insurance for $1B last year. In February, the Chinese government seized control of the company and jailed its CEO for fraud.

Central Okanagan MP Dan Albas says he’s heard from family members of residents at the Summerland Seniors Village that care has degraded since the takeover.

He said he’s been told of instances where the facility has been staffed so short, a single nurse is supervising 20 residents overnight.

“That’s alarming. If there was an emergency of any sort, a fire or whatnot, lives are at risk,” he said.

In addition to independent and assisted living, the facility provides complex care to residents with severe dementia.

Albas is calling on the federal government to open a dialogue with the Chinese government about the issue, “it’s not up to the province of B.C. to negotiate with China’s state government.”

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said he’s heard the same complaints about the Summerland Seniors Village being understaffed recently. However, he said other factors are also at play.

He pointed to a large wage disparity for staff between privately run care homes and the union-staffed facilities managed by Interior Health. With an existing shortage of care aides in the province, most new graduates are opting to work for IH for more money and benefits.

“The government requires 3.34 hours per individual in these homes, and it is my understanding the residents are not getting that because of the inability to find staff to provide that,” Ashton said.

“It’s not being contained to just this one centre, but this centre is feeling a substantial pinch on it, that in my opinion and other people’s opinions, residents are being put at risk due to the amount of help that is available at certain times during the day,” he continued.

Ashton is calling on Interior Health to enforce staffing regulations in care homes and stop sending patients to facilities that are documented to be understaffed.

He raised the issue with Health Minister Adrian Dix in the Legislature earlier this month, who called the Chinese takeover of Retirement Concepts a “very significant situation.”

“They have a responsibility to provide adequate care. We’ve been very clear with them. We’re meeting with the representatives of the new owners, who are effectively the government of China, in the coming weeks,” Dix said.

“Our message is that care standards have to be maintained, that we don’t expect any deviation from the commitments made to us and that we’re reviewing every aspect of this to make sure that the seniors who live in those care homes are protected,” he continued.

The federal government’s approval of the sale of Retirement Concepts to Anbang in Feb. 2017 raised eyebrows in both B.C. and Ottawa, but the Trudeau government said at the time the company assured service levels in care homes would be maintained.

Noting that he also gets complaints about understaffing at non-Chinese owned care homes, Ashton said he wants to see all privately run centres, “bring their standards up to where they are supposed to be, at a minimum.”

“That’s going to involve Interior Health, the Province of B.C. and the Government of Canada.”

Medical school graduates face growing problems obtaining required residency positions

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UPDATED MAY 25, 2018

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.


More than many Canadian medical schools, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba seems to understand the current plight of the country’s medical students.

With around 115 medical-school graduates across the country without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017, and 77 the year prior – the school acknowledges the state of limbo that these students face.

Quite simply, without those two-to-seven years of required training in their fields following graduation from faculties of medicine, they are unable to practise.

“It’s not a degree that you can move into the work force without residency training, so it really does strand you,” says Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine and the university’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Residency positions are allocated through a process known as matching, in which students rank their preferred specialties and residency locations and the medical schools do the same, with a system of algorithms determining a match. If students are passed over in the first round of selection, they can try again in the second round of matching. However, if they are unable to find a match at that point, they have to wait a year.

The number of unmatched students is increasing on a yearly basis; this year, there were 101 positions available for every 100 graduates, compared with a ratio of 110:100 in 2009. But many of those left over are francophone positions in Quebec, and/or in locations or specialties which students didn’t rank among their preferences.

To help address the problem, the University of Manitoba has devised something of a solution, offering positions for any of its unmatched students.

“We, for a very long time, have felt that there was an inherent crap-shoot effect to the match [process] that we were uncomfortable with ,” Dr. Postl says of the policy, which was approved by the faculty council six or seven years ago.

According to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), which represents the country’s medical faculties, the University of Manitoba’s ability to find matches for unmatched graduates is unparalleled at other schools. “It is the ideal [solution] of course,” Marie-Hélène Urro, the communications co-ordinator at AFMC, said in an e-mail. Continue reading

Local Health Advocates take Provincial Steps

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Andrea DeMeer
Spotlight Staff

May 17

Princeton is earning its spot on the health care map with local advocates taking a leadership role in the newly founded BC Rural Health Network.

Ed Staples, president of Support our Health Care, is directing the fledgling network, which already includes 10 other communities from Salt Spring Island to Trail and includes Nelson, Sicamous and Ashcroft.

“I guess the main reason is that rural British Columbians, for the most part, have been underserved by the health care system and that’s been a gradual erosion of services,” said Staples in an interview with The Spotlight.

“Rural communities have seen the services that are available to them centralized and regionalized and as a result that’s created all sorts of problems that people living in urban communities have no idea about.

Transportation, a chronic shortage of doctors, and longer wait periods for treatment are the common problems being experienced in small communities, said Staples.

“Those kinds of issues are things that we all share and what we are hoping to do is band together and provide rural BC a strong advocacy voice.”

While some of the solutions that rural communities would like to see implemented require provincial policy change, the network is also proving to be useful for sharing strategies that can be applied locally.

“Something that works well in one community might not have been thought of somewhere else,” said Staples.

Examples of Princeton models that are generating interest in other communities are the Love a Locum campaign, and the visiting specialist program, he added.

The network has been joined by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, a physician driven organization that has already provided funding and resources for promotional materials and a website.

The BC Health Coalition also recently established a relationship with the Rural Health Network.

“So it’s growing quite quickly and it’s growing in a very important way.”

The network members have so far just met using teleconference, but will have their first face-to-face gathering at the end of the month.

Advocates demand end to extra-billing, upset over $15.9 million federal claw back


BC Health Coalition present symbolic $15.9 million invoice to private clinics

May 1, 2018

For immediate release 

Vancouver and Kelowna, BC – Today, health care workers, seniors and other public health care supporters presented a symbolic $15.9 million invoice to False Creek Surgical Centre in Vancouver and the Okanagan Surgical Health Centre in Kelowna on behalf of the public. 

Both clinics are suspected to be two of the many BC private clinics unlawfully extra-billing patients. [1] [2]

Extra-billing is an unlawful practice where doctors or private clinics charge a patient for a health care service that should be provided at no cost because it is publicly insured as necessary care.

When extra-billing occurs in a province/territory, the federal government claws back an equivalent amount from the health transfer money sent to that province/territory. This is one of the enforcement measures the federal government uses to uphold the Canada Health Act. The BC government recently announced that the federal government clawed back $15.9 million in health funding from B.C. this year.

The $15.9 million was the estimated amount of extra-billing in BC this year, based on the audits of four clinics (3 audits completed for the year 2015-2016 and an earlier audit). [3] If BC does not stop the unlawful extra-billing, there may be more fines to come.

“We are here to send a clear message that unlawful extra-billing at the expense of patients in need, and the public purse, will no longer be tolerated in B.C.,” said Nat Lowe, BC Health Coalition organizer. “Our ask is that all private clinics in BC who are currently extra billing patients stop breaking the law at the expense of patients and public funds.”

“With the growth of private clinics and the lack of the enforcement of extra-billing in this province, BC has some of the longest diagnostic and surgical wait times in Canada. The government’s new strategy to complete thousands more surgeries and diagnostic tests in the public system is one step in the right direction,” said Rick Turner, BC Health Coalition co-chair.

“With the recent announcement to bring the full Medicare Protection Amendment Act into force and crack down on private clinics who extra bill, the current provincial government is taking responsibility to ensure private clinics are not unlawfully extra billing patients,” Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “This is great news for patients and our public health care system.”


[1] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/doctors-extra-billin…

[2] https://www.bchealthcoalition.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/p…

[3] https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0027-000559