(BC Health Care Matters)

This Family Physician Day, demonstrators are rallying outside the BC Legislature to bring awareness to the ongoing doctor shortage plaguing the province.

“Everyone deserves a family doctor,” said BC Health Care Matters.

The rally, happening in Victoria this Thursday, May 19th, encourages participants to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with organizers and medical professionals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“BC Health Care Matters’ mission is to campaign for timely access to appropriate in-person health services for every resident of British Columbia,” the group said.

Premier John Horgan admits the province is in a “healthcare crisis,” with the number of BC residents without a family doctor posing a “real problem.”

“Going forward, the provincial government has committed to working closely with Doctors of BC on solutions, including a clear process with firm timelines in order to make tangible progress on this complex problem,” Horgan said Tuesday.

Voicing frustration, BC Health Care Matters launched the petition Bring back our Family Doctors and our Walk-in Clinics earlier this year.

As of Wednesday afternoon, it’s garnered over 42,000 signatures.

“We are petitioning you for an immediate response that will include an action plan to rectify this crisis. Many individuals have been waiting for years to secure a family doctor, without success,” states the post on Change.org. 

“Now, with recent news of more departures and closures on Vancouver Island and elsewhere, many more of us who were fortunate enough to have had a family doctor in our community are left without,” the group wrote.

“Walk-in clinics are disappearing, and families are being abandoned in their care of the sick and the vulnerable.”

Several Greater Victoria walk-in clinics announced permanent closures this year, including the Cook Street Village Medical Clinic walk-in, James Bay Medical Treatment Centre, and Colwood Medical Treatment Centre, to name a few.

In April, the BC government said it was investing $3.46 million in short-term measures with funding aimed at keeping five capital region walk-in clinics up and running.

Still, one shuttered clinic estimates around 100,000 locals have no family doctor due to “the severe shortage of community-based, longitudinal doctors.”

That number climbs provincewide, with nearly 900,000 BC residents without a doctor as of 2017, according to Premier Horgan.

READ ALSO: ‘Not entirely shocked’: Victoria’s walk-in clinic wait times longest in Canada (REPORT)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Horgan says the workload on doctors has drastically increased, moving from 62,000 virtual visits in 2019 to nearly 14 million over the past few years.

“While this is a problem across Canada, it is very acute here in BC,” he said.

“I’ve heard from physicians throughout the province that they are both overworked and frustrated by the pressures they are under, which are compounded by the ongoing consequences of the pandemic.”

Horgan says the BC government is committed to addressing the program, with a “massive infusion of cash” needed from Ottawa to deliver public healthcare programs.

“Working with the other premiers, I have made it clear to the federal government that they must come to the table to address the lack of federal funding in health care throughout the country,” added Horgan.

Health Care Matters Rally

  • Where: Legislature Grounds, Belleville Street
  • When: Thursday, May 19th – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
(BC Health Care Matters)

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