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'Unconscionable': Fake posters promise family doctors in B.C. community

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Posters have been plastered across the Vancouver Island community of Esquimalt since last weekend, falsely promising residents they can sign up for a family doctor by emailing the municipal hall.

So far, more than 150 people have been duped into contacting the township.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said the emails are from residents who are “desperate for family doctors” – and contain their personal information.

“It is a hoax that is unconscionable in my mind,” Desjardins said Wednesday.

Desjardins said it's unclear who put the posters up, or why, but said the reaction speaks to the public confusion around how to obtain a family doctor.

Some responses also highlighted frustration with B.C.’s online Health Connect Registry system, which is supposed to help people find a primary care provider in their community,

“People would respond back, ‘I've been on this list for five years, we’ve had nothing – we can’t get anywhere with it,’” said Desjardins, describing the emails the township has received..

“Whenever a new family doctor opens their practice, they’re usually overwhelmed right away with people tring to get access to them,” noted Dr. Ahmer Karimuddin, the president of Doctors of B.C.

The province’s ongoing doctor shortage was the focus of a fiery debate in the legislature Wednesday.

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon raised the tragic death of a 23-year-old Nanaimo woman, whose family said she was misdiagnosed while waiting to get a family doctor.

“For three years, Sophia languished on the NDP’s so-called Health Connect Registry waiting for a family doctor,” said Falcon.

The government touted the 708 new family doctors it attracted to B.C. last year, and said it has matched 51,000 patients with doctors through its online registry, which started in 2019 and expanded province-wide last summer.

But officials acknowledged there are still more than 200,000 people on the waiting list.

As for the fake posters, Health Minister Adrian Dix derided the person or people responsible for them.

“Real progress is being made – and I don’t think the incident in Esquimalt is anything but lousy behaviour by somebody,” Dix said Wednesday. 

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