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Letters Jan. 22: The crisis in B.C.'s health care; why do we shun foreign doctors?

A lack of surgeons and general practitioners in Canada is being worsened by government inaction and an unrealistic pay structure, letter-writers suggest. HAMILTON HEALTH SCIENCES VIA THE CANADIAN PRESS

Independent body could handle health care

Re: “Two doctors’ frustrations a sign of turmoil in health care; 3,000 patients displaced,” Jan. 20.

The courageous stand-taking by these two young physicians says it all. I hope it will result in more B.C. citizens demanding practical, workable changes.

To understand what needs to change, the public should be well aware that physicians in B.C. fall into two categories, not family doctors and specialists, but rather, ones using well-remunerated procedures and the poorly paid ones without incomes from procedures.

As pointed out in the Jan. 14 editorial “Let MDs, not politicians, decide on patient care,” we should not expect politicians to have the answer to fix our failing system.

In countries with more successful systems, it is run by a committee consisting of experts and ordinary citizens, providing the independence of action needed, much like the Bank of Canada.

Failing to act now might trigger the “nuclear solution” open to all physicians of opting out of the government-run system, allowing them to charge their patients what they consider to be appropriate remuneration for the value of the service provided.

It is an increasingly popular solution used by physicians in Quebec.

Gerald Tevaarwerk, endocrinologist

We’re doctorless in British Columbia

My wife and I are two of the estimated 100,000 doctorless people in the capital region.

Last year, our family doctor closed shop. He’s about 15 years our junior, and we thought there was a good chance we’d have him until we died.

Ironically, he was as good as they get, but burned out because he was so good. His decision to retire was correct; otherwise, we probably would have outlived him in short order.

The family-doctor business model is broken. Premier John Horgan, if you‘re listening, you’re the man to make things right.

Bill Wellburn

Province should pay doctors’ office costs

A friend of mine, a retired physician, stated that as a family doctor he was also expected to be a small business owner with all the financial and logistical problems that entailed.

Many doctors like him just wanted to practise medicine, which is after all what we want them to do, and not have to be involved with the economics of running an office.

The stress of ensuring that you are seeing enough patients and billing accordingly in order to keep the lights on is driving many doctors out of family medicine. In my friend’s opinion, the public would be better served if family doctors were paid a flat yearly fee with all office overhead paid for directly by the province.

This would eliminate the need for doctors to also be business managers, and would allow them instead to spend more quality time with patients instead of the conveyor-belt approach that is currently needed to pay the bills.

In the end, the money all comes from the province anyway, so maybe eliminate the middleman.

Judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers and many other professionals are paid directly by the province and none of them have to run their own offices, so why not doctors?

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

Many questions about B.C.’s health care

Thanks for the articles on the difficulty of finding primary medical care in B.C. and Victoria especially, and the loss of physicians at Eagle Creek Medical Clinic.

Why is the payment for family physicians per patient visit so low? Something is really wrong with this fee structure.

We also need to know from the B.C. Ministry of Health how they are planning to deal with this situation. Looking at the directory of divisions within that department shows a huge diversity of roles, titles and jobs — are there too many employees, and not enough “urgent and primary” planning?

I would like to know how the new apparently provincially supported urgent and primary care centres are lessening or covering facility operating expenses for family doctors. Why is the North Quadra Urgent and Primary Care Centre still not repaired and ready to open from recent flooding?

Shouldn’t these centres lessen doctors’ costs to practise here? Shouldn’t we citizens know more about the financing of these centres?

Why is the medical care structure such a mystery? Why would a doctor not want to practise in an urgent and primary care centre rather than in a privately owned medical clinic?

Presumably they must have to pay a portion of the costs of the privately owned clinics. Do they have to pay any portion of the costs of the provincially supported UPCCs?

We the citizens need to know a good deal more on this matter.

Janet Doyle

We don’t welcome doctors from elsewhere

My late husband was a medical doctor. We applied for immigration to Canada from the United States in 2000.

We had our interview required for immigration. My husband told the interviewing officer, and submitted all of his licences, that he was a medical doctor and planned to set up a practice in Victoria.

My husband had always been a solo practitioner. The interviewer told my husband that if he did not already have a job waiting for him in Canada or if he did not have a sponsor he could not immigrate with just the plan of going into solo practice.

We were offered another option to “invest” in Canada instead, which we did at a great cost. It was money well spent as Canada is a wonderful country.

But, here was my husband, a doctor eager to practise medicine in Canada, who was turned down. I don’t understand it. Canada is shooting itself in the foot and people desperately need medical care.

Sherry Krieger

Politicians, we have a medical crisis

Re: “Two doctors’ frustrations a sign of turmoil in health care; 3,000 of their patients displaced,” Jan. 20.

Wow! A fee of $31.62 per patient visit is grossly insufficient for B.C. doctors. It cost me $100 just to walk into the vet clinic for an appointment for my dog. Let that sink in.

When are the politicians going to step up and do something about our ongoing medical crisis on Vancouver Island and B.C. Good grief!

Pam Bevan

Doctor shortage is a crisis for some

There are 100,000 people in Greater Victoria without a doctor.

For those who have a doctor or are fortunate to be young, middle-aged and healthy, this could be a minor inconvenience. For those of us 75 years or older, it is a crisis.

As a group, seniors are not very vocal and do not usually lead protests. Perhaps we are just too quiet and polite or unwell.

For the GPs who continue to serve us, perhaps they would consider taking seniors first on their wait list. Our government health-care professionals could encourage this and maybe even mandate it.

Something must change.

Margaret Howard

Several ideas to help out health-care system

With another two doctors quitting, perhaps the government will realize, and admit, that the health-care system is broken.

Easy to say, but what do we do? GPs should be paid to be doctors, not administrators and property owners/lessees. Isn’t the support of a GP’s office really public infrastructure in a public health-care system?

Why can’t we face reality and structure so that a GP is paid to see patients and all other, support, work is a health authority responsibility — just like running a hospital?

Yes, GPs deserve to be paid the current $30-plus to see a patient, but that does not adequately compensate when office costs, student loans, etc., are piled onto the GP.

As a further incentive to new graduates who are, reportedly, avoiding GP work, why not have student loan forgiveness programs that support both remote communities and doctor-starved ones like the Capital Regional District?

We baby boomers have not been willing to pay our way for five decades. The chickens are coming home to roost and higher taxes are inevitable.

The trick will be to make government efficient and effective.

Roger Love
Sidney by the Sea

More information on N95 mask usage

The recent article on N95 masks was useful and stressed proper fit.

It would also have been helpful to note that a good fit is impeded by facial hair including beards, moustaches or long sideburns. These should not be worn for long periods of time.

Additionally, as viruses can cross the eye membrane, total protection includes good eyewear, which is seldom mentioned.

Fern Davey
Retired infection control and prevention professional
North Saanich

Social change comes with criminal action

Re: “Don’t negotiate with logging protesters,” letter, Jan. 13.

The letter said: “The protesters say they are not criminals, but what they’re doing is in fact illegal. That is, after all, why they’re doing it. And, yes, that does make each one a criminal, convicted or not.”

These people may be criminals — but social change rarely happens without “criminals.” Most workers’ rights in Canada and the U.S. would not be in place without worker riots and walkouts.

“Criminals” have done things (riots, etc.) that resulted in many things that are good, such as inmate rights, BIPOC getting voting rights, more awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and more visibility about police brutality.

So before you say that criminals are always bad, think about the social change they bring around. Changes that were necessary.

Before you say that they shouldn’t be listened to, think about their perspective. They likely don’t want to be criminals, but they are still camping up at Fairy Creek because they feel that it’s the right thing.

They are breaking laws because they feel like their cause is worth it, that their cause is important enough to risk getting arrested.

They are peacefully protesting an important climate issue. Not kidnapping someone, as you compared this situation to.

Zoe Carrol

Protesting is a right and responsibility

Re: “Control protest blockades — or we’ll have more of them,” editorial, Jan. 12.

This piece demonstrates total ignorance on the history of popular movements, their achievements and importance.

Without protesters throughout the ages, there would be no vote for women, minimum-wage laws, medicare system, weekends, labour safety laws, abolition of slavery, equal wages, legal birth control, curbs on pollution, ideas of “reconciliation,” and no inquiries into missing and murdered Indigenous peoples.

The editorial said that “taking to the streets to protest what is happening in the forests makes little sense at the best of times.” What, then, would the Times Colonist suggest as an alternative?

All promises to protect ancient forests have been broken by Premier John Horgan.

Some “deferred” logging tracts have already been clearcut. Thousands of B.C. residents phoned, emailed and rallied their MLAs, but our elected representatives were silenced throughout the summer at the height of the human rights catastrophe called Fairy Creek.

Do you really think that protesters would rather be occupying streets on a rainy day than sitting at home with a good book, or gardening, or spending time with their families?

We are all inconvenienced by the endless floods, fires, heat waves, and taxpayer subsidies to polluting industry. Nobody was more inconvenienced than the almost 600 people who died as a direct result of last summer’s heat dome.

That’s why we can expect — and need — sustained protesting to demand action to stop pillaging the planet. The more the merrier.

Anne Hansen

Old-growth blockades are run by heroes

Re: “Control blockades, or get more of them,” editorial, Jan. 11.

This trivializing editorial is an insult to those persons trying valiantly to get our governments to act concerning ongoing life on our planet.

These “bullies,” so-called by the editorial, are heroes who put their lives in jeopardy to save old growth forests, one of our protections against spiralling global warming.

One would think that the “heat dome,” atmospheric rivers, floods, forest fires, loss of biodiversity and the many climate disasters experienced around the world would spur more real action by our politicians.

Trevor Hancock’s weekly contributions to the Islander are invaluable. His Jan. 9 column, “Let’s not make the next 50 years a repeat of the last,” illustrates why protesters are so frustrated.

Claudia Butler

Hermann’s deserves support from everyone

COVID-19 has hit hard in so many ways. Thanks to the Times Colonist for sharing news of the urgent appeal from Hermann’s Jazz Club for financial support to help them get through the devastating series of restrictions and lockdowns.

Like many, I have extra money as my choices for spending outside my home are far more limited.

My donation to help my favourite entertainment venue is already sent.

Joanne Thibault


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