VANCOUVER (September 27, 2023) – After months of advocacy from B.C. health care workers, the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA), and the BC United Caucus, the NDP is finally moving forward with the process of allowing physician assistants (PAs) to practice in B.C.— but without the urgency that is needed to address the worsening health care crisis.
“While I’m relieved Health Minister Adrian Dix is finally acknowledging the need for PAs in B.C., today’s announcement still isn’t clear about when PAs can begin practicing and start to relieve some of the stress on our crumbling health care system,” said BC United Leader Kevin Falcon. “We need decisive action on health care, but this announcement is too timid — it simply doesn’t go far enough. There is no issue more urgent than ensuring British Columbians have access to life-saving care when they need it and right now the NDP isn’t working quickly enough to solve this deepening crisis.”
B.C. recently announced that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC), in consultation with the Ministry of Health, is now working to amend bylaws that will allow physician assistants to practise in emergency departments under the direction and supervision of physicians. Currently, the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta and Nova Scotia all allow physician assistants to practice, as do the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I first raised the issue of physician assistants with Minister Adrian Dix more than a year ago, at which time he reported that he and his government ‘haven’t made it a priority,’” said Shirley Bond, BC United Shadow Minister for Health. “I’m glad that Minister Dix and the NDP have changed their position, but this work should have started months ago. The NDP now needs to promptly eliminate any remaining obstacles preventing physician assistants from becoming part of our healthcare teams. With an ever-growing healthcare crisis, this step is long overdue.”