B.C. hopes to ease jail crowding by hiking salaries of forensic psychiatrists to attract more doctors
The B.C. government is trying to ease a psychiatric care crisis in correctional facilities by offering to increase the salaries of forensic psychiatrists, Health Minister Terry Lake said Monday.
A severe shortage of forensic psychiatrists and beds at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam has resulted in mentally ill people languishing in jail instead of being treated at the hospital.
“We understand the challenge that they’re facing and we are working actively with the ministry and the Doctors of B.C,” Lake said. “Clearly there is a gap in remuneration between forensic psychiatrists and other psychiatrists, both within the federal government and within other parts of the system. So there has been an offer put forward to increase the salaries. That may help in the short term.”
Several years ago, forensic psychiatrists were paid more than general psychiatrists, but have now fallen behind.
The ministry is exploring other short-term options to alleviate the crisis, such as bringing in psychiatrists under contract. In addition, the ministry is working on long-term strategies with the Doctors of B.C. to make sure there is an ample supply of forensic psychiatrists, Lake said.
LOUISE DICKSON AND LINDSAY KINES Report
Dr. Scott MacDonald, Providence Crosstown Clinic