LETTER: Physicians greatly affected by rising commercial assessments

Dear Editor:

Re: Rising Commercial Assessments a Threat to North Shore Businesses; Only Banks and Doctors Will be Left, Councillor Warns (Jan. 11 news story).

As the chair of the North Shore Division of Family Practice I would like to highlight the concerns of rising commercial real estate and leasing costs and how they are affecting small business owners and our community. Contrary to what the headline suggests, family physicians on the North Shore have been greatly affected by rising lease rates. Doctors of B.C. data shows that the average general practitioner spends roughly 40 per cent of their income on office overhead costs.

Several family physicians have decided to leave the North Shore because of the rising costs of running a family practice office. This has left many patients without a family doctor. In addition, high residential housing costs have contributed to the difficulty in attracting support staff to work in our office. This, coupled with the significant rise in costs of running a business has forced newly graduated family physicians to choose to work elsewhere. This affects the ability for local family doctors to find locum coverage for holiday relief, sickness, and retirement.

The North Shore Division of Family Practice is very concerned about how changes in our community are impacting GPs’ capacity to care for local patients. We are currently working with the provincial government and Vancouver Coastal Health to develop health care delivery plans. This work involves consultation with local family physicians to identify challenges and opportunities to improve care. During these conversations with physicians, office space is repeatedly cited as a major concern. Most family doctors run their practices at full capacity, using every inch of their practice space as efficiently as possible. We will not be able to support our growing community in their health care needs if population and financial pressures continue as they are.

We need to collaborate as a community to ensure we can offer the best possible primary care for all of our residents.

Dr. Dedeshya Holowenko
Chair, North Shore Division of Family Practice
North Vancouver, BC

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