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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Health minister Adrian Dix, alongside Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC, announced Monday that the province has reached a tentative physician master agreement.

The announcement marks the departure of the controversial fee-for-service model that dictates how many doctors in the province are compensated for their work, under which physicians are paid based on how many patients they see.

“In January, as our B.C. pandemic entered a new phase, we said it was time to renew, rebuild and strengthen our healthcare system,” said Dix.

“The actions we’ve been taking, including the new payment model, come from working so closely with Doctors of BC and BC Family Doctors to find solutions that strengthen our health care system, that renew its essential function, and that build on our support for doctors and the patients who count on them.”

In BC, doctors are typically paid about $30 per patient, regardless of the health concern the patient is facing. To keep their practice afloat, physicians must work through a high volume of patients and undertake all aspects of care — including administrative work — on their own.

According to a Canadian Family Physician Journal report, the fee-for-service model is a significant factor in why many new doctors shy away from family practice, with some new physicians citing burnout and “unsustainable demands.”

The province says the new payment model will be equitable for doctors and will take into account other factors, such as the time a doctor spends with a patient, the complexity of the issues a patient is facing and administrative costs that doctors are currently paying out of their pockets.

The tentative three-year agreement, made possible through collaboration with the ministry, Doctors of BC and regional health authorities, also seeks to advance gender equity, Indigenous reconciliation, and workplace safety in health care.

“We are excited about these two major developments that we believe will make a real difference in helping to improve health care in B.C.,” said Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC.

“Over the last months, the provincial government has listened to the voices of physicians who passionately care about our patients. The new physician master agreement, which must be ratified by B.C.’s doctors, recognizes the value of the work doctors do every day. The new payment model option for family doctors is unique in Canada, bringing together the best of a range of payment methods.”

The province says a full-time family doctor will be paid about $135,000 more yearly under the new agreement.

The new payment model will be available to physicians by February 1st, 2023.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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Spencer HallInvestigative Reporter

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.