Sunday House Call, #854, October 9, 2022: The Smell That Surrounds You

Sunday House Call, #854, October 9, 2022: The Smell That Surrounds You

The hypocritical and pseudoempathic discourse emanating from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) expressing their heartfelt concern about the difficulties family doctors face in our present environment rings hollow.

In a letter to family doctors, Dr Lawrence Loh, Executive Director and CEO of the CFPC states, ” I have been struck by how the College’s Board and staff remain tirelessly devoted to advancing member interests and advocating for the issues that continue to affect the practice of family medicine in Canada, including burnout and workforce supply. I’ve heard how many of our members are reducing or modifying their clinical hours, retiring early, or leaving the profession altogether, while those who remain still struggle with needs for better administrative and locum support, a seat at planning and recovery tables, and improved compensation.”

Dr. Loh states that the CFPC states continues to advocate for family doctors:

“What’s also become clear to me, though, is that the CFPC is very much in our members’ corner. My meetings so far have brought me into awareness of how the CFPC continues to advocate on your behalf at provincial and federal levels and together with our provincial Chapters and our partner organizations including the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), and other members of the Canadian Medical Forum. As an example, this cadre of organizations is actively pushing for dedicated administrative and interprofessional support for primary care practices to address the current and severe health human resource shortages, aiming to encourage the federal government to invest part of their pledged  $3.2 billion into resourcing this work.

We also continue to promote proposed solutions such as the Patient’s Medical Home and Residency Training Reform which will enhance medical education for future family physicians, ensuring that their training keeps pace with the needs of patients and prepares them for complex and evolving societal health care needs and changes to the family physician role, while also advancing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion that we know are important to our members.

In beginning in this role, I’ve also heard frustration from members around the current nature of care provision. The CFPC has taken your concerns to heart, bringing them to the attention of elected officials and other decision makers through our government relations work, discussion papers, and representation on national committees and forums—and we won’t stop until we see the positive change that you all deserve.”

And yet, despite this outpouring of concern, wherein family practices cannot cover their costs to provide care to their patients, are cutting staff or hours to budget for inflation running at 6-7% yet receiving a 1% raise in Ontario. So as any responsible business that needs to pay its bills and remain operating, either has to increase their fees (they cannot as these are price-fixed by OHIP, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan), or cut costs.

Yet the CFPC, an organization that collects about $1000 per practicing Canadian physician per year says that it will propose a fee increase!

“The CFPC hasn’t raised membership fees since July 2017. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we made it a priority to protect members from fee increases during that time of uncertainly.  

Over the past five years, however, expenses continue to increase.

This has made it increasingly difficult to continue our vital work in strengthening and supporting our members and continuing the programs that both provide value for them and assures the high standards and trust that our members, the health care community, and the public expect of our work and our credentials. As a result, the CFPC will propose at the AMM an increase to fees to offset the impact of the five-year freeze. If approved, changes will come into effect on July 1, 2023.”

Well, we have not had any appreciable increase in fees to keep pace with inflationary pressures and patient demands for more than 10 years. If the CFPC truly believes that it must support physicians, then in solidarity, run your organization as we do our practices instead of thinking that your members are bottomless money-wells for you to tap when you need the extra cash. Learn to budget like the rest of us and stop trying to squeeze more blood out of the desiccated stone. Your proposal is tone-deaf and insulting. You do not provide value for service despite your assertions to the contrary.

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