Canadians Still Struggling to Find a Family Doctor

ministry of health - Family Doctor

The Plan for Family Doctor’s

In 2010 the BC Ministry of Health set out to provide every British Columbian who wants a family doctor with one by 2015.

Aside from extending access to family doctors; this plan aims to provide better care for patients with chronic diseases, seniors and those with complex health needs.

“Ensuring that British Columbians have access to their own family doctor – a health professional who is familiar with their medical history – can drastically improve health outcomes for patients and in doing so, can help ensure the sustainability of our health system. This shift will change the patient’s journey through the health system and streamline care so patients receive consistent and appropriate care through their family doctor over a lifetime” – Kevin Falcon, Health Services Minister.

Read the original 2010 news release.

Where Are We Now?

Fast-forward two years and it looks as though the BC Ministry of Health is still struggling to connect citizens to family doctors.

A recent Statistics Canada report shows little to no change in the accessibility of a regular family doctor since 2010. In fact, access to a family doctor is at the lowest point in almost a decade.

access to family doctor

With only three years left to achieve their goal, the Ministry of Health must continue to push integrated primary health systems throughout British Columbia.

Where’s The Change?

B.C.’s move to a more integrated primary and community health care system began in stages with some communities and regions across the province in 2010-11.

With this approach changes will happen slowly as the plan is fully rolled-out to communities around the province.

By March 2011, integration had begun in 40 communities and regions of the province and, by 2015, the program will be available in more than 160 B.C. communities, covering the entire province.

doctor patient - Family Doctor

Where Are We Going?

Shifting to primary health-care is part of the innovation and change agenda to improve patient care while managing growing health care costs and ensuring long-term sustainability.

At Iridia, we have seen this shift first hand and the Ministry of Health plan in action.

Our involvement at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre has shown us one such program, the Primary Care Clinic.

The Primary Care Clinic helps patients who are discharged from Surrey Memorial but don’t have a family doctor to get follow-up care.

So far, more than 3,300 patients have been connected with a primary care provider; a staggering number for a program/facility that opened its doors in 2011.

Bottom line – as the Ministry of Health plan expands, we can expect to see more individuals throughout the province connected with family doctors.

Preventative Health – A New Approach

Recently, our founder at Iridia, Dr. Allan Holmes, gave a speech at the Fraser Health Quarterly Business Meeting.

Led by Dr. Nigel Murray (Fraser Health’s CEO), the meeting brought together more than 250 managers, directors, executive directors, physicians and other senior executives.

Preventative Health

What was their agenda? – Introduce enhanced health through a new preventative health approach.

Preventative Health

Preventative Health is a key priority for Fraser Health and the BC Ministry of Health. Together, their goal is to establish a foundation of involvement through community partners to spearhead preventative health measures.

“Our health promotion and prevention services are provided by a team of professionals committed to the health and well-being of communities throughout Fraser Health.

Among them are public health nurses, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, community nutritionists, tobacco reduction coordinators, dental hygienists and others who provide community based services with a population health focus.

These services focus on health screening, health assessment, referral, early treatment, and building public health capacity through community development and strategic partnering.” – Fraser Health

How is Iridia involed? Dr. Holmes and his team have been working with community partners to embrace a proactive health approach that lines with Fraser Health’s vision, “everyone a champion for better health.”

Specifically, in conjunction with Fraser Health, Iridia is working with the Surrey Fire Department in the development of their HomeSafe program.

Preventative Health


The HomeSafe Program is the creation of the Surrey Fire Service. It was developed by Fire Service members who provided suggestions and recommendations to reduce the number of private dwelling fires in the City of Surrey, as well as other ways to mitigate health risks.

The four key areas HomeSafe focuses on are:

  • Free Home Safety Inspections
  • Fire-Setter Intervention Program
  • Child/Seniors Welfare and Human Trafficking Training
  • Fire Prevention Week / Public Displays

Each section deals with many unique social, demographic and awareness issues. For example, senior welfare can involve identifying indicators of abuse or neglect.

View the HomeSafe Brochure:

Preventative Health

Fall prevention is also a key element in the HomeSafe program. Falls are by far the leading cause of seniors’ injuries and injury-related hospitalization in Canada. Falls cause pain and, for many, lead to a move from home to a care establishment. They often cost seniors their independence and quality of life as well as represent a huge cost to our health system. However, most falls incurred by seniors are preventable.

With Surrey Fire, Iridia has identified many recommendations for reducing fall related injuries among seniors.

A prevention strategy could include:

  • Minimizing changes in surface types
  • Securing rugs with non-skid tape as well as carpet edges and avoid throw rugs
  • Removing oversized furniture and objects
  • Placing phone extensions on each level of the home with emergency numbers posed
  • Adding electrical outlets to avoid overloading breakers and tripping on extension cords

Prevention strategies such as HomeSafe are key for communities seeking to reduce health incidents, which otherwise, could have been avoided through proactive measures.

“Bringing this all together into a comprehensive program like this will undoubtedly create greater fire-awareness and modify current behaviours to encourage personal safety for young and old,” said Surrey Mayor, Dianne Watts.