To date, families in 36 rural communities across British Columbia will benefit from increased funding to strengthen public access to emergency services. A total of 52 communities are eligible.
The Province announced $10 million in July 2011 to provide financial assistance of up to $200,000 a year for rural, fee-for-service physicians who commit to ensure reliable public access to emergency services is maintained at their local hospital.
The applications received to date have been reviewed by a joint Ministry of Health and BC Medical Association committee, and the money is now being distributed.
Examples of how the funding might be used include hiring additional physicians, incentives for working weekends, holidays or night shifts and health authority-approved equipment purchases. Physicians will work with their regional health authority to develop community-specific plans.
The assistance is part of a series of targeted investments, totalling $180 million, to enhance patient care as outlined in the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between the Province and the BCMA. Approximately half of this assistance is directed toward improving patient access to services, while the remainder is for targeted labour market adjustments to improve recruitment and retention. This funding is within the existing fiscal plan.
The program was created by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, which includes the Province and the BC Medical Association (BCMA), set up to enhance rural health care delivery across B.C. Local physicians were encouraged to work together as a team and apply for funding.
This announcement supports the B.C. government's commitment to ensure the provision of health services in rural communities is looked at through a rural lens.
Dr. Glenn Fedor, president of medical staff, Cariboo Memorial Hospital,
"In Williams Lake these additional funds will be used to provide more robust 24/7 call coverage in the emergency department. Funds will be available as increased incentive for overnight coverage for all ER physicians including locums. We will also be adding a second on-call position to support the day shifts, providing additional assistance during periods of high demand."
Norman Embree, board chair, Interior Health -
"Interior Health serves a large geographic area covering almost 215,000 square kilometres and includes a multitude of rural and remote communities. Today's announcement reflects our commitment to working in partnership with physicians and the Province to provide reliable, sustainable emergency health care services in those rural sites."
- B.C. has a comprehensive set of incentive programs to encourage physicians to set up, practise and reside in rural B.C. These programs include:
- Rural Recruitment Incentive Fund for full-time physicians to relocate.
- Rural Recruitment Contingency to assist with recruiting costs.
- Rural Retention Program provides premiums on service payments as well as quarterly payments to physicians who practice and reside in rural communities.
- Rural Education funding to support ongoing professional development.
- Rural GP and specialist locum programs to provide temporary physician support to enable physicians in small communities to take time off for vacations/professional development.
- The Northern Isolation Travel Assistance Outreach Program provides financial support for physicians to travel to and provide services in rural and isolated communities.
For more information on programs supporting the delivery of medical services in rural BC communities and the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pcb/rural_jsc.html.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
The following communities will each receive up to $200,000 in funding:
100 Mile House - 100 Mile District General Hospital.
Alert Bay - Cormorant Island Health Centre.
Campbell River - Campbell River and District General Hospital.
Chetwynd - Chetwynd Hospital.
Clearwater - Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.
Creston - Creston Valley Hospital.
Dawson Creek - Dawson Creek and District Hospital.
Fernie - Elk Valley Hospital.
Fort St. James - Stuart Lake Hospital.
Fort St. John - Fort St. John General Hospital.
Golden - Golden and District General Hospital.
Grand Forks - Boundary Hospital.
Hope - Fraser Canyon Hospital.
Invermere - Invermere & District Hospital.
Kitimat - Kitimat General Hospital.
Lillooet - Lillooet & District Hospital.
Nakusp - Arrow Lakes General Hospital.
Nelson - Kootenay Lake Hospital.
Oliver/Osoyoos - South Okanagan General Hospital.
Pemberton - Pemberton Health Centre.
Princeton - Princeton General Hospital.
Port Alberni - West Coast General Hospital.
Port McNeill - Port McNeill and District Hospital.
Powell River - Powell River General Hospital.
Quesnel - GR Baker Memorial Hospital.
Revelstoke - Queen Victoria Hospital.
Salmon Arm - Shuswap Lake General Hospital.
Saltspring Island - Lady Minto Gulf Island Hospital.
Sechelt - St. Mary's Hospital.
Smithers - Bulkley Valley District Hospital.
Squamish - Squamish General Hospital.
Trail - Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital.
Tumbler Ridge - Tumbler Ridge Health Care Centre.
Vanderhoof - St. John's Hospital.
Whistler - Whistler Health Centre.
Cariboo Memorial Hospital & Health Centre.
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)