COVID-19 Updates

As the COVID-19 pandemic quickly evolves, the College will continue to send emails out to registrants with important announcements from the provincial health officer and share updates on related regulatory changes. All communications will be consolidated on this web page; please check back regularly for up-to-date information.

Information for registrants

Regulatory updates

November 9, 2020: Clarity about the PHO’s orders issued on November 7, 2020

Dr. Bonnie Henry issued orders on November 7, 2020 specific to Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. Specifically, Dr. Henry ordered that there are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than members of an immediate household. 

For example:

  • Do not invite friends or extended family to your household
  • Do not gather outdoors
  • Do not gather at restaurants

The order can be found here.

The delivery of care in patient homes or in private practice does not constitute a “social gathering.” Registrants who provide care to patients in these settings are expected to continue as they did prior to the issuance of this new order. 

July 24, 2020: Minor update to Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard

The Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard has undergone a minor amendment to clarify that practitioners can conduct a capacity assessment either in-person or by video-enabled telemedicine. Telemedicine assessments must meet the requirements set out in federal legislation as well as the standards and expectations that apply to in-person assessments.

May 25, 2020: Resumption of services in non-hospital facilities

The premier and the minister of health released their decision to ease restrictions on surgical services and to allow the resumption of non-urgent surgeries beginning on May 18, 2020.

In addition to the applicable standards from the Non-Hospital Medical and Surgical Facilities Accreditation Program, non-hospital facilities are expected to meet all applicable requirements from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, the Ministry of Health, and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), including those in the document Guidelines for COVID-19: Infection Prevention and Control for Private Surgical Facilities.

The College has published frequently asked questions for non-hospital facility medical directors and staff on resuming services. Read them here.

May 15, 2020: Guidance on providing in-person community care during COVID-19

The College has developed guidance for registrants on providing in-person community care during COVID-19, with expertise and direction provided by the provincial health officer (PHO), the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and WorkSafeBC. It is intended for all registrants in community practice and is applicable for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read it here

April 23, 2020: Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard clarification

The Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard underwent a minor revision to clarify that for MAiD assessments, telemedicine is assumed to include video of sufficient quality to ensure expected safeguards are in place. A telephone interview is not sufficient in most circumstances.

April 21, 2020: Update from the registrar

Read the update from the registrar to physicians here.

March 30, 2020: Update on scope of practice

Read the update from the registrar on scope of practice here.

March 27, 2020: Prescribing medications during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, registrants are being asked to make amendments to existing prescribing practices to ensure patients receive their medication while also following the requirements to distance themselves physically, self-isolate or quarantine.

Details regarding the amendments are available here.

March 27, 2020: Proposed temporary amendment to the College Bylaws

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC has posted a proposed temporary amendment to its Bylaws in response to the postponement of the spring qualifying examinations offered by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and the Medical Council of Canada. 

For more information, please visit the Bylaw Amendments page.

March 26, 2020: College Connector

The March/April issue of the College Connector contains important information for physicians related to COVID-19.

Read it here.

March 26, 2020: Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard temporarily amended

Effectively immediately and for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency in British Columbia, the following changes have been made to the Medical Assistance in Dying practice standard:

  • The limit allowing only one practitioner to conduct a telemedicine assessment is temporarily rescinded. Both practitioners can conduct the assessment by telemedicine. Telemedicine assessments must meet the requirements set out in federal legislation as well as the standards and expectations that apply to in-person assessments.
  • The requirement for a regulated health professional to act as a witness is temporarily rescinded. No witness is required for a telemedicine assessment if they are not reasonably available.
  • The requirement of the physician not to delegate or assign the return of MAiD substances is temporarily rescinded. When there is no other reasonable option, the physician may ask another physician, nurse practitioner, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, or pharmacist to return the substances to the pharmacy. The physician must document the name of the person assigned to return the substances in the patient record. 

March 25, 2020: Joint statement on unproven therapies for COVID-19

Read the warning on the use of unproven treatments and medications for COVID-19 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, the College of Pharmacists of BC, and the BC College of Nursing Professionals here.

March 24, 2020: Update from the registrar

Read the update from the registrar to physicians here.

March 23, 2020: Update on cancellation of DAP and NHMSFAP assessments

  • The DAP and NHMSFAP are extending the cancellation of assessments through June 30, 2020. Facilities will be notified if there are further cancellations of accreditation site visits beyond the June 30, 2020 date.
  • The DAP Committee and NHMSFAP Committee are expediting procedures as follows:
    • Automatic six-month extensions for accreditation certificate expiry dates will be given for any facility where the accreditation site visit has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • All variance requests associated with non-high-risk standards will be adjudicated directly by the deputy registrar to ensure the quickest possible turnaround time for decisions.

March 18, 2020: Cancellation of PPEP and POMDRA assessments

  • At this time, PPEP and POMDRA assessments and post-assessment activities are postponed indefinitely.
  • Registrants will be contacted by College staff once the Provincial Health Office and College has deemed it appropriate to proceed.

March 17, 2020: Update on telemedicine

  • Due to a spike in interest in making greater use of telephone and video communication as substitutes for in-person visits Doctors of BC recently announced billing changes.
  • In light of recent events and in response to an increasing number of inquiries, the College practice standard Telemedicine was recently reviewed and revised to clarify expectations of physicians who prescribe opioid and psychotropic medications, and ensure there are no regulatory barriers to the clinically appropriate use of distance technologies for patient care.

March 16, 2020: Cancellation of DAP and NHMSFAP assessments

  • At this time, the DAP and NHMSFAP are suspending assessments through April 9, 2020. Facilities affected by this change will be contacted directly.
  • Should there be any further changes to assessment schedules, facilities will be informed and this page will be updated.

Announcements from the provincial health officer

The College continues to work with the PHO to ensure registrants are kept informed about the COVID-19 pandemic. Emails are being sent to registrants to share important information.

Quick links

Information for the public

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC is continuing to protect the public and provide support and guidance to the profession as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

During a global pandemic, each of us has a responsibility to take steps to limit the spread of a viral outbreak. As a result, registrants are implementing enhanced screening and safety measures to ensure that the virus isn’t shared with other patients and health-care providers.

If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19, please refer to the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

Non-medical information about COVID-19 is available 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1-888-COVID19.

BC Ministry of Health

The BC Ministry of Health is providing regular updates on the status of cases in BC and updating advice and guidance to the public. It includes helpful information on steps you can take to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the virus.

BC Centre for Disease Control

The BC Centre for Disease Control has the most up-to-date information for patients on COVID-19, including:

Government of Canada

The federal government is providing daily updates on the status of COVID-19 in Canada and updates on the nation’s response, and has published a How to Self-Isolate Fact Sheet.

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is providing updates on the global status of the COVID-19 pandemic.