More than 10,000 people have signed a petition asking the B.C. government to pause its overhaul of the province's healthcare colleges.
In November, the B.C. government passed Bill 36, the Health Professions and Occupations Act, which will consolidate the number of B.C.'s health colleges from 15 down to six. The boards of these colleges will also now be wholly appointed by the government, rather than the current system where boards are partially elected by those in the profession.
Some healthcare workers across the province have pushed back against the new legislation, which has yet to take effect.
In a petition presented to the B.C. legislature by Independent MLA for Nechako Lakes, John Rustad, the signees have asked the government to reconsider the new legislation.
"What I'm hearing from Doctors and nurses, in particular, is that they aren't comfortable losing the ability to govern their own professions. Amongst other changes, Bill 36 removes independent, elected positions and shifts oversight of health professions to government appointees," Rustad continues.
"Bill 36 was written with little consultation from healthcare workers, and completely behind closed doors. Healthcare workers were kept out of the loop and BC's healthcare profession colleges (the current governing bodies) were asked to sign NDA's."
Rustad is a former BC Liberal MLA, but he was removed from the party last summer after tweeting about his skepticism of carbon dioxide's role in climate change.
Kelowna physician Dr. Joshua Nordine and dentist Trevor Morhaliek spoke with Castanet last month about their concerns with giving up control of these regulatory bodies to government-appointed officials.
“The government now determines what the conditions are and what is best and not best, and these are not doctors, these are not chiropractors, these are not dentists, these are bureaucrats,” Morhaliek said.
"It can politicize healthcare, and that's really worrying, because that is going to affect patient care."
In defending the bill, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the colleges are meant to represent the public interest, not those in the profession. He said appointing college board members will help in regulating the profession impartially.