A postcard campaign calling for an end to British Columbia's new Health Professions & Occupation Act, HPOA (formerly Bill 36), is expected to make a significant statement at the provincial legislature on Thursday.
The HPOA, which remains in limbo but passed last November, presents sweeping changes to how regulated health care will be governed in the province and how health care practitioners can provide patient care.
On February 8, nearly 11,000 residents signed a petition on compelling the NDP government to reconsider the legislation, owing to "little consultation from healthcare workers." Then Independent MLA John Rustad later presented the petition to the legislature.
"What I'm hearing from doctors and nurses, in particular, is that they aren't comfortable losing the ability to govern their own professions," he said. "Amongst other changes, Bill 36 removes independent, elected positions and shifts oversight of health professions to government appointees."
The "chilling effect" of the bill persists one year later, according to one physician.
"The majority of doctors, and probably most healthcare practitioners in British Columbia, are unaware of the disastrous effects that the HPOA will have on their patients, themselves and the delivery of healthcare in B.C.,” Dr. Stephen Malthouse told Rebel News.
Malthouse, a physician with over 40 years of experience and a spokesperson for BC Rising - the organization spearheading the postcard campaign - said government plans to use the legislation "will make it impossible to practice medicine properly." He contends amalgamating the governing powers of 15 self-regulated licensing healthcare colleges into six that are led by the Ministry of Health is problematic.
"Doctors will not be able to remain honest about the science, criticize faulty government policies, and protect the privacy and rights of their patients," said Malthouse.
Other critics of the HPOA, like retired human rights lawyer Gail Davidson, believes the Act will put insubordinate healthcare workers in a precarious legal position where they are ordered to pay hefty fines or serve jail time for. Davidson said the province never should have passed the law in the first place.
"The Health Professions and Occupations Act (ACT) was improperly pushed through on 24 November 2022 without the consultation, disclosure, informed debate and voting required in a democracy” she penned in a letter to all MLAs.
The act received Royal Assent with Rustad being the lone 'No' vote.
"This is a bill that fundamentally changes how the healthcare colleges are governed in the province of British Columbia, so there should have been a much more in-depth engagement with healthcare professionals about those changes," Rustad told Rebel News in a previous interview on the legislation.
On Thursday, the B.C. Conservative leader is expected to personally receive thousands of postcards calling for MLAs to end their pursuit of HPOA. In addition, he will host a group of doctors and other healthcare providers at the legislature's gallery. Those interested in attending Question Period can pre-register their seat here.
Members of the public are invited to cordially attend a press conference outside of the legislature where Rustad, Conservative Party MLA Bruce Banman, and several spokespersons, including doctors. will be speaking from 11:30-1pm.