Pressure applied to province to fix doctor shortage

City of Armstrong joins Enderby in demanding B.C. health ministry increase opportunities for international medical graduates

The City of Armstrong can empathize with its neighbours to the north over losing doctors.

Armstrong council voted unanimously Monday in joining the City of Enderby in writing the provincial health ministry to demand they increase opportunities for international medical graduates (IMGs) to get certification in order to be able to practice in B.C.

“A lot of Canadians are studying outside Canada or the U.S. because it’s getting harder to get into Canadian schools,” said Armstrong Coun. Paul Britton.

“The problem is when they try to get back, they face a lot of turmoil from universities or the college of physicians (and surgeons). It’s hard work to get certified in Canada.”

Armstrong was faced with a potential doctor shortage several years ago but thanks to rallies and community support, the Haugen Medical Centre was created.

Enderby is facing having just one permanent doctor after others left for a number of reasons.

The Interior Health Authority has stated there will be at least one new doctor this summer.

“Enderby is going through the same pains we were,” said Fowler. “Working together with another community that has a similar problem will have a lot more impact, and we can encourage other communities to do the same.”

Mayor Chris Pieper recalled attending a workshop at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention a few years ago, conducted by Margaret MacDiarmid, who is now B.C.’s health minister.

“She was quite the advocate at that time for getting these students back and getting rid of the roadblocks stopping them from practicing medicine,” said Pieper.

Both Enderby and Armstrong have received a letter from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., explaining they are aware of the barriers that restrict licensing IMGs.

The college has invited Enderby council to meet with members of its registrar staff at the college regarding the licensing of IMGs.