Protestors say Bill 36 represents government overreach into healthcare

Protesters on Victoria Street

More than a dozen people gathered on Victoria Street on Wednesday morning to protest a new law they say invites government overreach into regulatory colleges for healthcare professionals.

Bill 36 — the Health Professions and Occupations Act — was passed into law this past November. The new legislation streamlines regulatory colleges, which oversee healthcare professionals like nurses, doctors, psychologists and pharmacists, from 15 colleges down to six.

The legislation also changes administration of these colleges, allowing the province to appoint a superintendent and the board members who hear and make decisions on issues of professional misconduct.

Roxanne Engli, one of the protestors standing with signs and flyers outside the office of Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, said she wants to keep a separation between the provincial government and the regulatory colleges.

“It takes the authority from all the health modalities in B.C., doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and takes the governing from their individual bodies, puts it into a centralized government group with government-appointed officials telling each group what they should do,” Engli said.

“So regulating the bodies through a government appointed position, people that have no idea of how these different groups are run.”

Vicki Gehring said she was thankful Stone voted against Bill 36, but said the bill should have been better publicized so B.C. residents could have understood more about it.

"That should have gone to every news outlet in the city, in this province. And it should have been blasted across for every person, every resident of B.C. to review, so that he [Stone] actually represents us, and not makes a private decision about his vote,” Gehring said.

Engli and Gehring said they are also concerned Bill 36 will have consequences for clients and employees of healthcare professionals regulated under these colleges.

“You must comply with any mandate by the present government or future government, anything they deem necessary — that’s how specific it is. And these are coming from a politician, not a doctor. It’s so open-ended, and we’re supposed to just comply with whatever they deem necessary in the future,” Gehring said.

“We want to make our own health choices. We don't want a politician who is not a doctor telling us what to do.”

— With files from CTV News

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