Military families in B.C. struggle to find family doctors

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Military families have hard time finding family doctors – Mar 9, 2017

Life in the military often means having to pack up and move.

“It’s not uncommon for us to move every two to four years,” said Derrick Allday, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

That itinerant lifestyle can be particularly challenging for members of the military stationed in B.C. who often struggle to find a family doctor.

“It is really difficult because there [aren’t] a lot of doctors out there,” Allday’s wife Lisa Scale said.
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Two years ago, B.C.’s legislature heard an estimated 220,000 British Columbians did not have a family doctor despite a 2010 government promise to “provide every British Columbian who wants a family doctor with one by 2015.”

Two years later, many find themselves relying on walk-in clinics rather than family doctors.

The Canadian Armed Forces has recently launched a new program that has a private company help military families find doctors.

Tracy Cromwell, executive director of the Mainland B.C. Military Family Resource Centre, said the program has been well-received. She recalls recently telling a member of a military family about the new initiative.

“I said, ‘We have this program now where we might be able to help you get access to a doctor. Has this been an issue for you before?’” Cromwell recalled.

“She said, ‘That’s my life. That’s what I go through all the time.'”

Lisa Scale is thankful for the program.

“They contacted me this morning and we now have a family doctor,” she said.

“Eighteen months here and we haven’t had a family doctor and now instantly I have a family doctor.”

Ironically, Allday will likely be redeployed this summer, which means his family will have spent almost of their time in Vancouver visiting walk-in clinics.

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They hope health care at their next destination won’t be as much of a problem.

“The doctors where we potentially may be going, they do house calls and things like that so I’m hoping it might be a little easier to get health care,” Allday said. “It can’t be any more difficult than here, I guess.”

– With files from Ted Chernecki

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