Should B.C. have an independent body to oversee healthcare professionals and deal with complaints?

Poll: Healthcare complaints

Local healthcare professionals are criticizing B.C.'s newly passed legislation that will make sweeping changes to how health colleges in the province are regulated.

Kelowna physician Dr. Joshua Nordine says Bill 36, the Health Professions and Occupations Act, was “rammed through” the legislature in November, with little consultation with those in the professions that will be impacted.

The new law, which has yet to go into effect, will consolidate the number of B.C.'s health colleges (regulators) from 15 to six. The colleges' boards will now be wholly appointed by the government, while they were previously partially populated by people who'd been elected by those in the profession.

The colleges will be monitored by a new oversight body and the complaints process is being reformed, with an independent discipline tribunal.

Nordine, along with Kelowna dentist Trevor Morhaliek, spoke with Castanet about their concerns with the new legislation, and they say they've heard from many other colleagues who feel the same. But of even more concern to them, is many of their colleagues and patients haven't even heard of Bill 36. One of the issues Nordine has with the new system is the changing of the complaints process.

“If something goes through an investigation process, we now have to run to lawyers and get affidavits,” he said. “It's no longer good enough to say 'this is what happened from my version of events and here is the chart and everything else' ... it's going to burden down any sort of complaint process.”

He also is concerned about how the new disciplinary tribunal will be publicly publishing all findings of misconduct.

“They'll publish their veneered account of things,” Nordine said. “It's their veneered version of events, all findings are going to be published ... It's a very top-down approach, very bureaucratic.”

Speaking on the new bill last week, Health Minister Adrian Dix called the publishing of misconduct findings a “reasonable step,” and noted that complaints on their own will not be made public, only findings of wrongdoing.

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