B.C. Liberals' plan could help improve heath care in B.C. says MLA

Health care solutions

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 immigrate 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 just over three years.

They have immigrated to B.C., 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 (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 B.C. Liberals have called for a 30-day action plan to address the crisis in primary care. The plan contains 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 added to the our plan. These new measures include:

• Expanding doctor training spaces at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Medical School from 288 to 400. There have been no seats added under the current government during its two terms in office.

• Fulfilling the NDP’s broken promise to create a second medical school at Simon Fraser University.

• Drastically increasing the number of residencies available for international medical graduates from 56 to 150, with the goal of continued expansion.

• Reducing barriers for internationally-trained physicians who have passed the initial Medical Council of Canada qualifying exam.

• Expanding the capacity of the Practice-Ready Assessment program for internationally-trained doctors.

• Supporting more collaborative team-based care.

• Consulting with physicians, pharmacists and stakeholders about 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 earlier) accredited here in Canada. Ultimately, that would help to increase the health of British Columbians by having them employed as doctors. That is the goal, to serve patients and residents of B.C.

My question to you this week is this:

What measures do you think should be used to increase primary care in B.C.?

I love hearing from you, and read every email you send me You can email me at [email protected] or call me at 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for the Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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