B.C. offers doctors new pay model, including $135,000 raise, to target health crisis

VANCOUVER — Family doctors in British Columbia are getting a significant raise under the province's new compensation model as part of a plan to address the crisis in the health care system.

The provincial government says a full-time family doctor will be paid about $385,000 a year, up from the current $250,000, under the new three-year Physician Master Agreement reached with Doctors of BC last week.

Currently, family doctors are paid through a fee-for-service model and the government says the new plan will also pay them for hours worked, the number and complexity of patients and administrative costs.

One in five B.C. residents don’t have a family doctor and the compensation model aims to recruit and retain more family doctors.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the payment model will help protect and strengthen B.C.’s health care system.

Premier John Horgan says in a statement the new model will help deal with the staffing shortfall.

"Rising costs, pandemic-related pressures and staffing shortages required action for doctors on several fronts," Horgan said in a statement.

The master agreement, which must be ratified by physicians, was developed between the Doctors of BC, the province and BC Family Doctors and will start in February next year.

In addition to pay increases, the government says in a statement the funds will also cover income disparities and new hourly premiums for after-hours services.

The statement says the agreement provides more equitable payment for the work of family doctors and better recognizes their value in providing full-service primary care to patients.

Full-service family doctors are those who work in communities to provide ongoing primary-care services to their patients.

Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of the Doctors of BC, says the tentative agreement recognizes the value of 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 goal is not only to stabilize family practice, but to make it sustainable and rewarding, Dosanjh says in the statement.

"Everyone deserves a family doctor, and this new option is a major step toward making that goal a reality."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2022.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press