VANCOUVER — Family doctors in British Columbia will be eligible for an average $25,000 each to help tide them over until a new compensation model is established this fall, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday.
Dix said the intention of the one-time funding is to keep clinics open and give family doctors financial relief amid rising operational costs.
British Columbia is experiencing a crisis in access to health care and nearly one million residents do not have a family doctor, according to Doctors of BC.
Part of doctor burnout stems from systemic pressures including rising overhead costs of running a practice, Dix said.
"Those pressures on the system are real and they put existing practices in jeopardy in many cases. So what this is, is a first step to stabilize the system while we build a new compensation model," he told a press conference.
The total $118 million in funding is available to about 3,480 family doctors who have their own practices and 1,100 working in walk-in clinics.
Physicians who are paid direct salaries and don't pay any overhead won't qualify, Dix said.
Part of the idea of the payout is close the gap between family doctors who pay the costs of operating a practice out of their income, and hospitalists, who may have the same training but work at a hospital, Dix said.
"Effectively they are paid significantly more than someone who is working in longitudinal family practice, in full-service family practice. So what this does for this period is address that particular issue," Dix said.
Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC, said operational costs have risen to eat up an average 30 to 40 per cent of a family doctor's income, which incentivizes them to leave the practice.
The funding will "help stop the bleeding," she said, and keep clinic doors open until a new pay model is revealed this fall.
"We've heard loud and clear from our doctors that this is a much-needed step and we can't allow clinic closures to continue at the rate they have been," Dosanjh said.
About $75 million will be provided by the Health Ministry and $43 million will come from the General Practices Services Committee, which is co-chaired by the Health Ministry and Doctors of BC.
The application process will be straightforward and physicians who apply in September should receive their funds in October, Dix said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2022.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press