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

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VANCOUVER — Family doctors in British Columbia have been offered 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 said Monday a full-time family doctor would be paid about $385,000 a year, up from the current $250,000, under a tentative 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 said the new plan will also pay them for hours worked, administrative costs, and the number and complexity of patients.

Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC, said the deal represents a “seismic shift” in the way family medicine is practiced in the province.

“It is a model unique in Canada bringing together the best of a range of payment models. It addresses rising business costs, it recognizes the value physicians provide when delivering longitudinal care and it will compensate us for the time spent on evening and weekend administrative burdens,” she said.

“We’re listening to the concerns of many of our family doctors who have left practice or have been contemplating leaving.”

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.

The plan will cost the B.C. government $708 million over three years, representing overall increases to the total base budget between three and 5.5 per cent each year.

The cost is on top of a one-time $118-million program to hand out an average of $25,000 per family doctor to keep them in practice until the plan’s launch.

One in five B.C. residents, or about one million people, don’t have a family doctor and the compensation model aims to recruit and retain more physicians.

The agreement would be accompanied with a new “roster” system, to be introduced by mid-2023, where those looking for a family doctor can register to be linked with practices in their community instead of searching one out themselves, an official said Monday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the payment model will help protect and strengthen B.C.’s health-care system. However, he said the government doesn’t have a specific estimate for its impact in terms of the number of people who will get a family doctor, or the number of doctors recruited as a result.

“It’s going to have a very, very positive effect. We can’t be exact,” he said, adding that it’s not a one-step solution but is part of a broader overhaul of health services.

The roster system will give the government better information about who has care and who needs it, he said.

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said in a statement that while the announcement seems to address major concerns expressed by family doctors, it’s important that the plan also measures outcomes.

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

One of the complaints from family doctors has been high overhead costs of operating a practice, averaging between $80,000 and $85,000 a year, that come out of their pocket, an official said.

The new model aims to close the pay gap between family doctors and hospitalists, who are paid close to $300,000 a year to work in hospitals and have the same training but not the overhead costs.

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

Premier John Horgan said 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.”

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

 

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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K’omoks First Nation signs draft treaty with B.C., federal governments

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COURTENAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Officials with the K’omoks First Nation and the B.C. and federal governments have signed a draft treaty in a step toward the nation’s self-governance.

K’omoks Chief Ken Price says it was an “exciting, memorable, and emotional day” for the community on Vancouver Island as it marked another step toward a treaty.

Price says in a statement that many K’omoks leaders have been part of negotiations over the last 30 years aiming to “build the best treaty possible.”

He says treaties are “the highest form of reconciliation between nations.”

The draft treaty must still be ratified by a vote among K’omoks members, and Price says the next step is to ensure questions are answered to ensure their community members feel they are making an informed decision.

A statement from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada says the initialling marks a milestone on the nation’s path to self-governance.

If the 351 registered K’omoks members vote to ratify the treaty, the statement says the B.C. and federal governments would then adopt it through legislation.

The full ratification process is expected to take three years, with the treaty coming into effect in 2028, the statement says.

The minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, Gary Anandasangaree, says the initialling “marks a pivotal step away from centuries of colonial policies.”

“After 30 years of negotiations involving K’omoks, Canada, and British Columbia, this treaty embodies transformative policy innovations crucial to advancing reconciliation,” he says in the statement. “For Canada, achieving this milestone … represents a significant stride toward genuine nation-to-nation relationships built on mutual respect, partnership, and the full recognition of rights.”

K’omoks is the latest First Nations to sign a draft treaty with the federal and provincial governments, following proposed deals with the Kitselas Nation and the Kitsumkalum Band, part of the Tsimshian First Nation in B.C.’s northwest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

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More zebra mussels found in Manitoba, this time in a popular reservoir

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WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government is dealing with another discovery of zebra mussels.

The province says two positive samples have been detected in the St. Malo Reservoir — a popular swimming, kayaking and camping destination in a provincial park south of Winnipeg.

Conservation officers are monitoring the area to make sure boaters clean their watercraft.

Zebra mussels are an invasive aquatic species that can harm fish populations and clog water intake systems.

Last fall, Parks Canada found live zebra mussels in Clear Lake north of Brandon, Man., and later closed the lake to most watercraft.

Earlier this month, Parks Canada found an adult zebra mussel in a cove in Clear Lake, suggesting the mollusks are building a presence in the lake.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

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Tenants offered accommodations and support after surprise mass eviction

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WINNIPEG – Some tenants of an apartment building moved back in Monday, more than a week after they say they were forced out on a few hours’ notice by a new landlord who put some of their belongings on the front lawn.

“(I’ll) start over, I guess,” said Devony Hudson, who picked up a new set of keys Monday morning as police officers, a private security firm and Manitoba government workers kept an eye on the three-storey brick building, built more than a century ago.

Some of the building’s windows were broken or boarded up. A notice on the front door from the Winnipeg Fire Department said the fire alarm and sprinkler system were out of service.

Hudson said a caretaker came to her door two weekends ago, told her she had to leave immediately and offered her a few hundred dollars. Shortly after, her belongings were outside.

“I just went for a walk, just for like 10 minutes, came back and it was … all on the front lawn.”

Hudson has been spending the last few days in a nearby house that does not have working electricity.

In another suite, Kyle Lemke got a knock on the door. He said he was told the locks were being changed, and a man he had never met who said he was the owner told him he had to leave within 24 hours and offered some money.

“I threw out so much stuff,” Lemke recalled while standing outside a hotel where he has been staying.

“I had maybe four garbage bags and a laundry bag, but I wasn’t able to take everything,” said Lemke, who walks with a limp after almost losing a leg months ago to necrotizing fasciitis.

Lemke said he was told everyone had to leave because of an order from the city over fire hazards, but the city never gave an evacuation order.

Attempts by The Canadian Press to reach the building’s owner were unsuccessful.

The Manitoba government moved last week to support the tenants.

The provincial minister for housing, Bernadette Smith, said the actions the tenants described are illegal and an investigation is underway.

The residential tenancies branch issued orders to the landlord, had the locks changed and made arrangements for the tenants to start returning. The province offered tenants emergency accommodations and per diems for food.

But some tenants were not able to be tracked down.

Marion Willis, who runs an outreach program that helps people find housing and other services, said some tenants had previously been in encampments and had nowhere to go when they were told to leave.

“We have tried to find people. There’s people in encampments, there’s people that are couch-surfing in other buildings. There’s people that are just sleeping out on the street,” said Willis, executive director of St. Boniface Street Links.

Some tenants may be reluctant to return for fear that they may simply face a more formal eviction process and end up homeless again.

Lemke said he has no interest in going back, and had a new apartment lined up. He’d like to see someone held accountable.

“I would like to see justice,” he said.

“You can’t just do that to people.”

The provincial government said Monday at least two tenants had returned over the weekend and a probe of the landlord’s actions was ongoing.

“In this situation, the (residential tenancies branch) has a number of options available, but is still working through the investigation,” said a written statement from the government’s central communications office.

“Depending on the outcome of the investigations, these measures could include the imposition of further orders, administrative fines and prosecution for contraventions under the legislation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.



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