Further steps needed to relieve pressure on health care professionals

VICTORIA (January 27, 2023) – As B.C.’s deadly health care crisis continues, the BC Liberals are renewing their calls for the NDP government to explore new solutions to relieve the significant strain on health care workers, including allowing physician assistants to work in the province.

“B.C.’s health care system is in a deteriorating state of crisis and David Eby should be considering any solutions that would help alleviate pressure on the collapsing system and support our overworked health care workers,” said BC United Leader Kevin Falcon. “Health care professionals have been calling on the NDP to allow physician assistants to practice in B.C. for years, but so far, the NDP government has resisted taking this step. With our health care system collapsing, it’s time to let physician assistants work in B.C.”

The BC Liberals first raised the issue of physician assistants with Health Minister Adrian Dix last May, at which time the minister said that he and the NDP “haven’t made it a priority.” Physician assistants work under the supervision of doctors and can perform many administrative duties, along with conducting patient interviews and exams, reducing strain on the system and improving patient access to health care. Currently, the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta and Nova Scotia all allow physician assistants to practice, as do the Canadian Armed Forces.

“At a time when our health care system so clearly needs all the help it can get, you’d think that the NDP would jump at the opportunity to bring more trained medical professionals to our province,” said Shirley Bond, BC Liberal Shadow Minister for Health. “We’ve reached the point in B.C. where our health care workers are crying out for relief and this is a common-sense step that would not only support our system, but also bring us in line with other jurisdictions across Canada. British Columbians expect the NDP government to use every tool in the toolbox to deliver the health care people need and deserve.”

The BC Liberals first put forward a 30-day action plan to address the crisis in primary care last July, announcing further solutions to the health care crisis a few weeks later.