BCHA condemns proposal to create College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The BC Humanist Association is calling for the scrapping of a proposal to create a "Regulatory College of Complementary and Alternative Health and Care Professionals" by a committee tasked with modernizing BC's provincial health professions regulatory framework.

The new regulatory college is being proposed to amalgamate existing colleges for chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. In January, the BCHA called on the committee to "end the recognition" of these professions and enshrine evidence at the core of its reforms.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

We're disappointed that the Committee has recommended the creation of a new regulatory body focused primarily on practices that eschew science and evidence but that the importance of evidence-based medicine is completely overlooked by this latest report. The word "science" doesn't even appear in the report and the only reference to evidence is to the size of the boards to be appointed.

BC's health regulatory framework has been under scrutiny following allegations of abuse being overlooked in some professions and dangerous pseudoscientific claims being unchallenged in other professions. For example, a board member of the College of Chiropractors publicly claimed that fruit smoothies are more effective than the flu shot (he later resigned following public outcry), and two Kelowna-based chiropractic clinics that argued that vaccines were not needed, as the body would “do what it was created to do.” At the time, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that anti-vaccine rhetoric was a problem in the profession, but that little could be done due to the self-regulating nature of the profession. 

In spring 2019, Henry Cayton was appointed by the government to look into professional organisations. His report ultimately recommended tearing down the entire system that regulated medical professionals in the province. He argued that while some colleges were genuinely interested in the welfare of their patients and others were not.

The new all-party committee's latest report, which follows feedback received since this January, proposes reducing the existing 20 colleges to just six:

  1. College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC
  2. College of Pharmacists of BC
  3. BC College of Nursing Professionals
  4. College of Health and Care Professions (new)
  5. Oral Health Professionals (new)
  6. Regulatory College of Complementary and Alternative Health and Care Professionals (new)

The report also recommends that the current practice of practitioners electing their own governance boards be replaced with boards appointed on a competency basis by the province. There would also be additional oversight boards.

Bushfield continued:

The silver lining in these recommendations is the hope that with increased, and independent, oversight that there will be swifter action to respond to dangerous pseudoscientific claims being spread in the future.

The report does not include a timeline for implementing the proposed recommendations.

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