B.C. Liberals dismantling Vancouver community health clinics as doctors issued lay-off notices

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VANCOUVER – Vancouver Coastal Health is issuing termination notices to staff and physicians as the B.C. Liberals condone the dismantling of multi-disciplinary clinics that thousands of Vancouver residents rely on, say New Democrats.

“Notice is being sent today to physicians at South Vancouver, Evergreen, Pacific Spirit, and Pine community care centres, after Vancouver Coastal told other clinic staff that they are at risk of losing their positions yesterday,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix. “These cuts are the next step in dismantling clinics that thousands of patients across Vancouver count on for high quality, primary care, and they’re proceeding thanks to a lack of leadership and vision by the B.C. Liberal government.

“Not only are these cuts coming at a time when some 100,000 Vancouver residents don’t have access to a family doctor, despite the Liberals’ promise that all British Columbians will have one within 12 months, they are also taking place at a time when other jurisdictions are embracing multi-disciplinary clinics to increase access to primary care.”

According to correspondence attained by the New Democrat Official Opposition, Vancouver Coastal Health is issuing notice under Section 54 of the Labour Code – a displacement notice – to 16 primary care staff, including nurse practitioners and 14 physicians who are currently part of teams serving patients at Pine, South Vancouver, Pacific Spirit and Evergreen primary care clinics.

New Democrat health critic Judy Darcy stated that Liberal health minister Terry Lake refuses to listen to the patients, staff and physicians from these clinics, and is ignoring the evidence that this model of primary care should be expanded, not undone.

“Had Liberal health minister Terry Lake attended the emergency summit he was invited to last week regarding these clinic closures, he would have heard local family doctors and patients endorse this successful approach to primary care and discuss its benefits to patients and the overall health care system.

“He also would have heard health care researchers encouraging B.C. to replicate Ontario’s work in championing and expanding community health care clinics. Ontario community health clinics are outperforming all other models of primary care by preventing 20 per cent more hospital room admissions than other modes of primary care among their patients. This saves governments billions of dollars.”

Darcy also noted that the Minister has stated repeatedly that there would be no cuts and closures in Vancouver’s community based primary care clinics. “Today’s news again shows that is not the case.”