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General News · 11th January 2024
There was a post yesterday on the Tideline calling the community to write letters to our government representatives about the Primary Care situation on Cortes. Unfortunately this post has been removed. The Cortes Community Health Association supports the call to action to let our leaders know about the personal costs of diminishing services to rural communities.

We do need to make a clarification. The Cortes clinic is continuing to book practitioners after March and we are NOT announcing that there will be no doctor after March 31.

There is a lot of work being done by various health agencies like Island Health and the Campbell River Primary Care Network as well as our current group of physicians to ensure that Cortes continues to have Primary Care services into the future. But there is no permanent solution yet. There are physicians willing to come here but we are lacking a physician to take the “host” role. This physician role is necessary to oversee medical operations and fulfill Medical College requirements for the practice. This role is currently shared by the physician group.

On January 22 the CCHA will be meeting with various agencies who have been working on this and will post a more complete update after that meeting. We would like to be able to report at least an interim solution at that time.

If you would like to write letters of concern about the state of rural health care in general and our situation in particular, here are some talking points and sample letters drafted by a Board member. Please use them as a starting point and personalize them to your own situation.

1. In order to solve the shortage of general practitioners the Province has made it more lucrative and easier to establish an urban practice. Some of these urban areas are small towns. By providing better incentives for larger urban practices they have thus decreased the incentives for rural practice.
2. There had been an increase in bureaucratic work load for Cortes physicians that regularly increases the doctor’s workday to 10-12 hours.

3.Changes to Medical College requirements mean that physician must spend their off hours providing more on call support.

The result is that physicians are going to these urban designations because it is less work and more lucrative.

The Province is crediting itself with providing more urban doctors. Of course, there is only one pool of doctors which means now there is a greater shortage in rural areas which already struggle with lack of resources.

Michelle Babchuk, MLA

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health


To: HLTH.Ministergov,
Attention: Adrian Dix, Minister of Health

Michelle Babchuk, MLA

My name is xxxxx and I am a resident of Cortes Island. The physicians in our collaborative practice are resigning as of March 31, 2024 and we are at risk of not having primary care.
This problem was caused by the Province increasing compensation and easing working conditions for urban physician practice. Meanwhile, rural doctors are comparatively under paid. To make matters worse the bureaucratic burden on rural practice has increased making working conditions extremely difficult.
The alternative for me and my family is to attend a clinic in Campbell River. This is not feasible as it is a 2 ferry trip to Campbell River. The ferries run intermittently when weather is bad while the ferries are so congested when the weather is good that is a full day commute. I am working and have children at school.
The Province needs to put rural physicians on an even playing field which means increasing compensation and streamlining working conditions.
This matter needs to be addressed immediately.

Thank you, xxxx


Attention; Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
Email address:
Address if mailed
Copy to Michele

My name is xxxx. I am a resident of Cortes Island an isolated community with a population of 1000 people, increasing to 3,500 seasonally.
I am asking you to address the issues which have caused the physicians in our collaborative practice to resign as of March 31, 2024. Basically , changes to physician compensation and working conditions for urban practice leaves rural doctors under compensated while negative changes to their working conditions makes it very difficult to run a practice.
If I need to go to a clinic in Campbell River for medical care, it is a 2 ferry trip each way. Bad weather causes intermittent ferry service while good weather causes ferry overload which makes commuting equally difficult. The increase in ferry traffic will cause horrible congestion, paralyzing the ferry network. It is a 1-2 day trip.
Please address these issues immediately to avoid a crisis.
Thank you, xxxx


Attention: Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
Minister Dix, I am a Cortes Islander who is asking you to make changes to the rural doctor program so that we can retain physicians on Cortes. The doctors in our collaborative physician practice have resigned effective March 31, 2023.

We have always had doctors on Cortes. We have an up to date clinic that was built by the residents. We have been very innovative.

However, we are now facing a crises because compensation paid to rural docs does not equate to that of urban doctors under the Province’s urban doctor health program. Furthermore, while the practice of medicine has been simplified in the urban areas a change in rules has made rural practice much more time consuming. Rural docs face more bureaucracy working 10-12 hours a day while being on call 24/7. They are leaving rural areas to go into an easier, more lucrative urban practice where they can have a life.

There must be a level playing field so we can attract physicians. We have always had able to attract physicians but cannot under present circumstances .We live in a remote area, 2 ferries from Campbell River. Travelling to Campbell River is difficult because of seasonal weather interruptions and ferry overloads. It is not possible for a population of 1,000 which increase to 3,500 to commute to clinics in Campbell River. We have many seniors and children.

However, whatever the age and circumstances the logistics are insurmountable. We don’t have enough ferry space, ambulances or medovacs to accommodate us.

Please intervene in a timely basis so we can avoid a crises. With practical changes we will be able to retain our rural docs.

Thank you, xxxx Cortes Island, BC