Physicians in British Columbia have reached a new deal with the government that supports the shift to team-based care, as well as better access to healthcare for people.

The deal is good for three years and meets the government’s Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate for bargaining.

Most physicians are employed as independent contractors, therefore their services are paid for through fees, contractual arrangements and other incentive programs negotiated in the Physician Master Agreement.

“New physicians have told us they want their focus to be on patients, while many retiring family doctors are unable to find new physicians to take over their practice and the administrative burden that comes with it,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Through the Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate and the give and take at the bargaining table, this agreement charts a new way forward by supporting doctors to work in partnership with other health professionals and gives patients the team-based care they need.”

Physicians are typically responsible for the overhead costs associated with operating their practices, unlike other public-sector employees. These costs can include information management and information technology infrastructure, medical equipment, clerical support, as well as office space.

The financial terms of the agreement provide a total incremental cost increase of $331 million by the end of 2021.

As per the release, the financial breakdown is as follows:

  • $61.4 million to cover the annual general increase of .5% for physician service fees and alternative payment program rates;
  • $63.6 million to support full-service family practices, primary care reform, and other collaborative efforts.
  • $5.7 million going to the Specialist Services Committee, which supports the ongoing improvement of specialist services in B.C. through projects like the development of multidisciplinary clinics and identifying and filling gaps in various areas of specialty care.
  • $1.8 million going to the Shared Care Committee (SCC), which works to improve patient outcomes by bridging patient transitions from primary care to specialty care. The SCC focuses on collaboration between doctors and patients to address barriers to care, fostering patient self-management, and reducing unnecessary burdens on patients and their families.
  • $104.3 million for additional compensation increases including increases for rural programs and after-hours services;
  • $66 million for physician benefit enhancements, including the Contributory Professional Retirement Savings Plan and the Physician Health Program; and
  • $35.7 million to cover increasing physician business costs.

The PMA covers approximately 12,000 doctors in the province and will be in effect through March 31, 2022.