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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Implications of physician manpower planning in Canada for the family physicians of British Columbia Varley, John Charles


The work content and style of practice of family physicians in British Columbia has been evolving since the second world war. Since the late sixties, a reassessment of the role of family physicians has been underway, both in Canada and the United States. Primary health care has recently been given greater recognition in North America. The development of family practitioners’ tasks in the last twenty years is reviewed from the point of view of a practitioner. In Canada, the health care system has been changing since the forties, as a result of a series of federal-provincial agreements. It had become apparent that, despite constitutional deeding of health care to the provinces, federal incentives and funding were required to develop an appropriate nationwide system of health care. What was a joint private enterprise and local community sponsored health care system in the thirties, has now become a complex government-funded operation. Government involvement in third party payment schemes, for doctors particularly (the last of a series of national health insurance programs), has changed the relationship of doctors to their patients, because both became subject to the new rules of the Medical Care Act of 1967. Government involvement in payment for services has led to questions about accountability for spending. Subsequently, this led to the need for better planning, especially health manpower planning, which began to be considered very important in the early sixties. At that time, the Royal Commission on Health Services examined the prospects of bringing physicians’ services and allied health manpower services to all Canadians. The attempts to plan physician manpower in Canada and British Columbia in the sixties and seventies are considered and criticized. Conclusions are drawn regarding the prospects for future manpower planning for primary care to be given by family practitioners in British Columbia.

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