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Will BC doctors do something before it's too late?

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Doctors hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing.Dr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver BC - September 9, 2017.

There are a lot of calamities in the world today grabbing our attention so why is this important now?

This directly affects our BC health care system, which has slipped from being one of the best in the world to below the top ten. You don't have to tell patients and families who need care, they already see the cracks and hurdles everyday as they wait and hope to get the care they need.

What is happening this week at the BC Medical Association, the Doctors of BC, is critical. They are a well-funded, important organization that negotiates on behalf of all doctors with the BC Government and co-managing public health care. This affects not only doctors but patients and everyone in BC. It cannot be ignored.

Doctors may have become apathetic and cynical with low professional satisfaction as they feel overworked and struggle trying to get people the care they need. However, now is a critical time for them to consider these important facts. If they don't act now things may get a lot worse.

Is the Doctors Of BC communicating openly with doctors or keeping them in the dark? In negotiations with government is it doing the best for doctors and health care? Is it making doctors working conditions better or more complicated with no defense against more hurdles to getting patients the care they need?

This is a critical time with the beginning of the Doctors of BC's new Board and Representative Assembly (RA) structure and leading up to negotiations with the provincial government in 2018. A unique and untested structure, the first of its kind under the new BC Societies Act.

All doctor members can nominate members for the Board but cannot see all nominees or what they stand for.

The new Board will be determined this week, on Thursday September 14, by the RA. The general membership of all doctors were able to nominate members for the Board but are not allowed to know who all the candidates are or what they stand for. Surely, this is not right

The Representative Assembly in it's first action, to elect the Board of Directors, is compelled to secrecy rather than openness and transparency, unable to discuss candidates with the general membership such that the decision of the Representative Assembly can represent the members.

The elections are administered by the CEO, Mr. Allan Seckel – previously Deputy Minister to the Premier in Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal Government, who shortly after the election of Premier Christy Clark became CEO of the BC Medical Association bringing with him, from Government, Ms. Marisa Adair as the Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs and Mr. Paul Straszak as Executive Director of Negotiations.

All doctor members were able to nominate members for the Board positions. Closing of nominations was on August 25, 2017 and candidates were required to submit their statements to the CEO by September 1, 2017 with elections to be held by the RA on September 14, 2017.

While the list of all candidates has been known since August 25 it has not been made available to the general membership of doctors even now two weeks after nominations closed. The list of candidates and their statements has only been circulated to the RA and all other candidates by email with a standard confidentiality footer that it is for them only.

Also a meeting of the new Board has been scheduled for September 15, the day after the RA meets on September 14. Is that not too soon? The very next day, leaving little time for travel if needed and little or no time for minutes of the RA to be prepared or reviewed prior to the Board meeting. Should this not have been scheduled later?

Is the process not democratic and in contravention of the Constitution and Bylaws?

Why is the list of candidates and their statements not available to the entire membership?

This process is not restricted in the Constitution and Bylaws of the Doctors of BC (BC Medical Association) filed under the BC Societies Act earlier this year, in January 2017. For members to not be able to see who all the nominations for the Board are and what they stand for does not appear to be democratic and as such may be in contravention of the intent, if not the wording, of the BC Societies Act.

Furthermore, the process is in direct contravention of articles 13.9 (c) and 13.10 (c) of the Bylaws, stipulating that nominations "must be received by the CEO at least 40 days before the time fixed for the election." Nominations were open until August 25 with elections to be held by the RA on September 14, only 21 days later not the required 40 days.

The CEO is responsible for administering elections and responsible for doing so in compliance with the Constitution and Bylaws, the BC Societies Act and guidance from Board policies.

Do the CEO's actions represent the values of the membership? Do the CEO's actions represent the values of the Board or the RA?

Who are the candidates for the Board?

If the general membership could know who the candidates are what would they think?

There are more than thirty nominees for the nine remaining seven Board director positions and positions on the important Governance Committee and Nominations Committee. [Addendum: The new Board is composed of nine directors;  the President who was elected last year by the membership, the President-Elect who was elected earlier this summer by the membership, and seven remaining directors who will be elected by the RA.]

For the important position as chair or Speaker of the RA, as though it is some sort of parliament, there are two doctors that have been nominated. They are Drs Michael Golbey and Lloyd Oppel. Both of them are also vying for alternate positions to maximize their opportunity to get on the Board and important committees.

Are either of them really suitable for this important position with a three year term? They have both been around the halls of medical politics in BC and at the Canadian Medical Association, the CMA, for a long time and have a history.

Dr Michael Golbey was President of the BC Medical Association in 2006 during negotiations with the Gordon Campbell Liberal Government. Dr Michael Golbey decided to take the money destined for each individual doctor as a signing bonus from the Government, similar to that given to all union members, and gave it back to start the PITO program that itself was not in keeping with important requirements for EMR as determined by the BCMA's IT Committee that he himself had chaired.

Dr Lloyd Oppel has also previously been on the BCMA Board and the CMA. Despite several attempts to seek the position of President-Elect he did not garner enough support to succeed. With the new Board being much smaller it is important to have directors that have wide support throughout the membership.

Among the thirty candidates for seven Board positions is Dr Brad Fritz. He is a GP who has also been around the halls of medical politics in BC and at the CMA for a long time and he too has a history. For over a decade he was the chair of the negotiations committee for the BCMA. During that time negotiations with Government expanded becoming a full-time activity throughout the years. Contracts with government grew to beyond two hundred pages with multiple appendices, becoming incomprehensible to many doctors, and fostering the approach by the Board of recommending to the members that they accept the contracts without a pro and con analysis being provided. He also urged that the chair of negotiations be paid the same rate as the President.

Also among the candidates are Drs Alan Gow, Carole Williams and others who have been around the halls of medical politics in BC and at the CMA for a long time and also have a history that should be scrutinized. Both Drs Alan Gow and Carole Williams have been chair of the BCMA Board in the past and their decisions and comments can be found in the records and the BC Medical Journal (

Will BC doctors do something before it's too late?

Will the membership of Doctors Of BC insist on seeing who the candidates for the Board are and their statements? Will they look to see who is on the Representative Assembly and discuss with them which candidates are best suited to be on the Board?

What will the RA do? Will they insist on an open and transparent process that includes the membership? Will they consider the process is in contravention of the Constitution and Bylaws and as such unsuitable to act on as is?

Will the RA decide to appoint an independent interim speaker for the upcoming meeting and to serve on the Board along with independent interim Board directors and recommend implementation of renewed nominations casting the net wider for more suitable candidates?

Will doctors realize they must act now to save their own association? The association responsible for negotiations with government in 2018; determining doctors working conditions, requirements for paperwork, eWork, forms, waitlists and billing requirements, and to defend against more hurdles to getting patients the care they need.

Will the BC Government and the Minister responsible for BC Societies review the conduct of these elections, in an important association that negotiates with Government and involved in co-managing the public health care system? Is this a democratic process? Is it in contravention of the BC Societies Act or in contravention of its own Constitution and Bylaws?



Constitution and Bylaws, BC Medical Association (Doctors Of BC)

Role descriptions, BC Medical Association (Doctors Of BC)

Will the new BC Societies Act transition be a train wreck?

Has the BC Medical Association been stolen from the members?



Board Member Selection

Thank you for your comments. 

With such a new process, there will be a learning curve and some things that can be improved upon. The timing of the meeting is because the board has business that needs to be done as soon as possible, such as confirming current and nominated committee positions; any delay would impair committees' ability to work.

As for the publication of the list for speaker/deputy speaker/board members, I will raise this issue at the board meeting and, just as I did with the request for information on voting statistics, I will come back with what I can.

I encourage every member to be involved in their own way and I look forward to hearing more of your comments and suggestions.


Board member and RA chair selections

Hello All,

I just saw that the full list of nominees for the board and RA chair positions is up on the website here:

Feel free to make your opinions known to the representatives that will be voting.

As always, please send me any ideas or comments.


Will the candidates statements also be posted?

Thank you for following up on this. It is good to see the list of candidates is now posted on the Doctors Of BC website.

What about their statements, what they stand for, will those also be posted on the website?

Have the members received notification of this?

All of this is rather late. Members really are not being given the information in sufficient time.

And what about the contravention of the Bylaws?


This was to be a new beginning.

We have 11,000 Drs, all of whom with few exceptions would make admirable board and committee people. I sat on the BCMA for 12 years with the likes of me first political aspirants and we don’t need the resurrection of Golbey and gang and the trash they represent. This was to be a new beginning. Don’t forget Caroline Wang who fought a defamation suit against these peoples’ behaviour. As has happened in the past there will be a colleague who will have had enough old boys behaviour and ignite the membership to get some new bodies to represent us. Does Oppel really sit on 11 committees? Surely an exaggeration.



You're welcome. 

I will raise these questions; I think that there are always lessons to be learned, especially the first time of doing things. 

We're in the right direction with the RA and with feedback like yours we can make the process even better. 

Please continue to send your suggestions and ideas!