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Frustration builds among B.C. resident doctors over new contract offer

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Resident family doctors in British Columbia are frustrated the province’s latest wage offer does not address core issues in the current system, such as soaring infrastructure and overhead costs associated with operating practices.

In a letter sent to the Ministry of Health, Doctors of BC and Resident Doctors of BC, the two lead resident doctors from the University of British Columbia outline frustrations around the proposal and a recent meeting.

The offer, which became public earlier this week, is directed to 175 new family practice resident graduates and includes a $25,000 signing bonus if they sign on by September to work as family doctors in B.C.

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The contract also includes debt forgiveness of up to $100,000 and a base salary higher than a typical first year resident would receive.

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The letter says Health Minister Adrian Dix arrived at a meeting with doctors on June 15, and claims the intention of the meeting was not made clear beforehand.

“Resident Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health misrepresented the intent of the session, who was going to be present, nor was an agenda offered beforehand,” reads the letter.

“The proposed solution presented by the Ministry of Health, for those who are about to enter practice in the midst of the family physician crisis in our province, was developed without the input or perspectives of resident physicians.”

There are around 900,000 British Columbians currently without a family doctor.

It is unknown how many resident doctors will sign the deal.

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“We want more doctors to join full service family practices,” Dix said in an interview on Tuesday.

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“It is not a resolution to all of the problems. You can’t wait to solve all of the problems to address some of the issues.

The letter to the ministry also says the presentation made last week provided minimal transparency into the process used to come to this solution for new family physicians.

The original plan also excluded International Medical Graduate colleagues. That has now been changed to allow both local and international students.

Read more: Concerns being raised over doctor shortage, lack of health care in Keremeos, B.C.

Family practice residents are looking for a long-term strategy to guarantee that longitudinal family practices have sustainable support to maintain care for British Columbians.

“Even if you get people to sign the contracts, once the contracts are up I don’t think they will stay in community medicine until we address factors like overhead and inequitable compensation we are all dealing with,” said Victoria family physician Dr. Jennifer Lush.

“There may be a lack of trust but I hope we can redeem it. We need some short term urgent results but we also need a coordinated long term approach.”

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