Since 1969, Resident Doctors of BC has been committed to ensuring the best possible training environment for residents. We have accomplished a lot since we were established, from being certified as a union, to increasing residents’ salaries and decreasing duty hours, to acquiring benefits, and promoting awareness of residents in the public. Below is a brief history of the past five decades.
On January 31, Executive Director Pria Sandhu left the organization after almost nine years in the role. Harry Gray became the new Executive Director in February.
Resident Doctors of BC developed a new three-year Strategic Plan.
PAR-BC rebranded and changed its name to Resident Doctors of BC on February 1st, following an office move in January from 401 West Georgia St. to 650 West Georgia St. in Vancouver.
In June, Resident Doctors of BC launched its new website to complement the new brand identity.
Another round of collective bargaining yielded a 5-year deal, with a plan to increase wages yearly for a total of 5.5% over the 5 year period; new call definitions for evenings and weekends; relief from call duties for pregnant residents over 24 weeks gestation; and an annual professional expenses benefit of $1000 for R1s and R2s. Membership numbers pass 1300 residents.
BC Resident positions increase to 1263. The newly negotiated per-call system came into effect.
Bargaining began in 2010, and PAR-BC received a positive Strike Vote from its members. However, the Labour Relations Board deems residents an Essential Service, which ensured negotiations would be able to continue unimpeded, and that residents could continue training.
In 2012, after 2 long years of bargaining, PAR-BC signed a new collective agreement that spanned from 2010-2014.
A pay-per-call system was negotiated, to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year, bringing BC residents closer to what residents are paid in other provinces.
Residents received a compounded wage increase of 2.8% over 4 months ending in April 2013. They were also awarded 2 flex days per year, and 2 paid days off to attend the birth of their child.
PAR-BC developed a new Mission Statement and Purpose to better reflect its mandate and commitment to residents.
Dr. May Tee2009 President
In expectation of the approaching expiration date on the Collective Agreement, PAR-BC began making preparations for bargaining in a time of economic crisis.
Membership continued to grow. There were 180 incoming PGY-1 residents in 2005, 192 in 2006, 243 in 2007, and 283 in 2008.
The 2006 Collective Agreement was renewed from 2006-2010.
The 2004 Collective Agreement was renewed until 2006. While negotiations were difficult due to government-imposed zero wage increases, PAR-BC was able to ensure that residents required to travel to distributed sites be reimbursed for travel and housing-related expenses.
PAR-BC moved to an office at 401 West Georgia St. in Vancouver.
In response to increased funding for medical schools to expand enrollment, PAR-BC advocated for an early increase in numbers of residency positions in preparation for the additional medical school positions.
A new collective agreement was ratified, with stipulations such as a maximum of 1:4 in-hospital call, and wage increases from 2001-2003.
PAR-BC entered into a partnership with the Vancouver Coastal Health Association’s Employee and Family Assistance Program to provide residents and their families with 24-hour access to counseling province-wide.
Member dues were reduced from 2% to 1.5%, and the organization established a Resident Advocate Award to honour individuals who have improved the well-being of residents.
PAR-BC applied to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to become the bargaining association for all residents province-wide, regardless of where they were based for training. The hospitals, through their bargaining association the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), respond by applying to the LRB to have residents declared as students, and to block PAR-BC from representing them. They also stated that residents were non-essential to hospital operations.
Members gave PAR-BC a mandate to strike in June 1997. In July, HEABC conceded that residents are employees, and a mediated settlement was reached in October. UBC and HEABC continued to disagree over who had responsibility as the employer until 2001 when HEABC decided to drop the matter.
In July 1997, PAR-BC adopted the Spirit Catcher logo, designed by Mr. Bryson Young. The Spirit Catcher was used as a tool in the hands of the shaman or healer in the traditional culture of the indigenous people on the Northwest Coast. At this time, PAR-BC also moved to an office at 601 West Broadway St. in Vancouver.
PAR-BC’s governance structure changed from a program-based representative forum with more than 40 members, to a 12-member board elected by the membership.
PARI-BC changed its name to the Professional Association of Residents of British Columbia (PAR-BC) to reflect the elimination of the internship year.
The BCMA, together with the Medical and Health Services Act, approved a points system of differential fees for new entrants to practice, where new practicing physicians would receive a geographically restricted billing number at 50%, 75% or 100% of billings dependent on the level of physician service deemed necessary to that particular community. New graduates working in areas of the province deemed over-serviced for general practice would receive 50% of their billings, until they accrued enough points for an unrestricted billing number to be issued.
After significant PAR-BC lobbying and a court challenge, the measure was found to be in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and was struck down.
On July 1, 1993 the mandatory internship year was eliminated for resident trainees, and two pathways to physician licensure were established. Residents could either choose to pursue Family Medicine and be licensed through the College of Family Physicians of Canada, or enter a medical specialty through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
PARI-BC lobbied for a third pathway to general licensure to be implemented, which permitted residents who completed one year of internship to practice Family Medicine in BC. This was later discontinued due to changes in educational needs across specialties.
The Medical Council of Canada created the second part of their qualifying exam, the LMCCQE II, meant to be taken 18 months after obtaining an medical doctorate.
PARI-BC lobbied for amendments to the Medical and Health Services act to prevent payment of differential fees to physicians based on years of practice, which resulted in lower billing fees for new physician graduates.
The Medical Services Commission implemented regional billing numbers in an attempt to solve the problem of over-supply of physicians in some areas, and under-supply in other regions of BC. The goal was to limit newly licensed physicians’ access to practicing in certain areas.
PARI-BC and the Canadian Association of Interns and Residents (CAIR) filed a Charter challenge against the legislation, known as Bill 41. After court battles all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Bill 41 was upheld.
By 1985, residents at every teaching hospital in BC were unionized.
Dr. Hugo Sutton1975 President
An amendment to the Labour Relations Code gave professionals the right to organize, and in 1975, PARI-BC applied for certification as a union. This was challenged by hospitals, who claimed that residents were students and therefore not entitled to salary or negotiated working conditions.
In 1976, the Labour Relations Board ruled that residents were employees of the hospitals, in what is known as the Weller Decision. This paved the way for PARI-BC to collectively represent residents and interns in BC.
As a result, between 1980-89, resident wages increased more than 122%
Dr. Ken Dubeta1972 President
During this time, residents were classified as students, and their salaries were slashed significantly, with individual hospitals determining resident salaries. At one hospital, for example, an R2 made only $7,980 per year, which was significantly less than the salaries of nurses and residents in other provinces. Residents also lacked consistent benefits packages.
PARI-BC began to actively recruit residents in an effort to better organize, and to build a strong voice. The resident doctors involved were threatened with sanctions and termination.
In 1974, after continual refusal by hospitals to increase resident wages, PARI-BC organized the first BC resident physician strike. Withdrawal of services commenced at Royal Columbian hospital, and within 7 days extended to all the teaching hospitals. Residents were ordered back to work and an arbitrator was appointed to settle the dispute.
The Professional Association of Residents and Interns of British Columbia (PARI-BC) was founded in 1969 in response to poor working conditions for residents. At the time, 20% of residents in the province had lost their jobs as a result of budget cuts, their working conditions were poor, and they didn’t have a voice provincially or nationally to advocate for resident interests.
PARI-BC was founded as the bargaining arm of the Society of Medical Residents and Interns of Vancouver. Its overarching goals were to protect the personal and professional interests of residents, including remuneration and working conditions, and to improve teaching programs.