There’s growing fear that bureaucracy could send Enderby doctors packing.
City council is demanding a meeting with MLA Greg Kyllo and Health Minister Terry Lake about physicians being unable to access benefits if they don’t reside in the community they practise in.
“We want to discuss the policies that affect rural physicians,” said Mayor Howie Cyr.
A new physician in Enderby lives in Coldstream and that means she can’t access government incentives such as additional education, pay increments or hiring locums.
“She opted not to live in this community for a very good family reason,” said Cyr.
“She’s here for the term of her contract but we’re worried about retention.”
Cyr points out that Coldstream isn’t that far from Enderby and it shouldn’t matter if a physician decides to live in Salmon Arm, Vernon or Armstrong.
“People in our community really don’t care where a doctor lives as long as there is a physician when they go to the office,” he said.
If incentives are not available, Cyr is concerned that doctors will bypass Enderby altogether.
“If the climate is not healthy and welcoming for physicians, word gets around to other doctors,” he said.
While linking residency to work may have once made sense, Cyr says most agencies have dropped those restrictions and he points to an RCMP officer who lives in Enderby but is based out of Surrey.
“The world has changed,” he said of people basing their residency on issues such as lifestyle, family and income.
Cyr insists that his council must meet with Lake because the Ministry of Health dictates the rules.
“Interior Health’s hands are tied. They are bound by the policy.”