Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement following a meeting with representatives from Doctors of BC:
“Today, Minister Adrian Dix and I had a constructive discussion with Doctors of BC. I was pleased to have the opportunity to express how important primary care is to our health-care system, as doctors provide us with the confidence that someone will be there to help us when we get sick.
“Our government and Doctors of BC fully agree that British Columbians should be attached to primary care and have predictable access to their physicians. It is through continued dialogue and co-operation with physicians that we will be able to provide solutions to provide transformational change to B.C. by building on our historic efforts. We can only make progress when we work together.
“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.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of family physicians was important and adaptable to the conditions as they moved from 62,000 visits by telehealth or virtual health in 2019 to 13.9 million visits during the pandemic.
“The number of British Columbians without access to an in-person family physician is a real problem. They are left waiting hours for medical attention that, for many, could have been addressed with a visit to a family doctor.
“While this is a problem across Canada, it is very acute here in B.C. 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.
“This problem didn’t start yesterday. In 2003, there were 437,000 people unattached to a primary care practitioner and, by 2017, that number had doubled to 897,000. The impacts on B.C. families are clear today.
“Previous governments struggled with this problem and some efforts to address it were, unfortunately, abandoned. We will not abandon British Columbians. We have undertaken historic investments through team-based care in primary care networks, community health centres, Indigenous-led clinics, and urgent and primary care centres to expand access to public health care in this province.
“Our government is committed to addressing this problem, but one path we will not take is privatization. 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.”