06/17/2015 02:15 EDT | Updated 06/17/2016 05:59 EDT

Doctors of B.C. leadership candidates debate health care ahead of election

Physicians across B.C. will cast their votes for a second time in two months in search of a new leader. Dr. Brian Day was originally elected head of of Doctors of B.C. before a recount showed he tied with his opponent Dr. Alan Ruddiman.

Tomorrow is the last day for physicians to submit their vote in the run-off vote. Both candidates spoke with CBC Radio One's Stephen Quinn to make their final pitch for the job.

Why do you want to lead this organization?

Dr. Alan Ruddiman:

I believe the office of president-elect is really about choosing a colleague or peer who has proven that they can produce results on behalf of all physicians here in our province. We know that doctors and governments haven't necessarily always agreed on the best way to deliver health care in this province.

We believe the main problem doesn't lie in how we pay for the care but it really does lie on how we deliver care in this province. We as physicians would like to work with governments and health authorities in producing positive results in the province.

Dr. Brian Day:

The cooperative and collaborative relationship is all well and good, but we need to be more of an advocate for our patients.

What we have here is a situation in which we have patients who aren't getting the access they need. I think this is a time when yes, we need to cooperate with government, but we also need to assert that this system is not working. We have patients suffering and dying on wait lists.

This election has been framed as fight of the public versus private systems. Is that accurate in your view?

Dr. Ruddiman:

No, I don't think it's an accurate depiction. If society chooses to have a different relationship in the way in which physicians are funded for the services they provide, I think the medical association would certainly yield to the law of the day.

It's not our association's place to be sitting down and changing the laws and constitution of this country. What we're here to do is improve access, to improve quality of care to all, deliver efficient care, and really it's about providing our patients with better lives. 

There should be no additional cost borne by patients to receive care in a country where we have a Canada Health Act.

Dr. Day:

I absolutely disagree. If people had respected apartheid laws, laws stating abortion was illegal or homosexuality was illegal, where would we be?

It's our duty as advocates for our patients to change laws that prohibit patients from getting access.

We want a good public system, but a the type that exists in other social-democracies like in France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria where there is a small component on non-government health care, not a government monopoly that treats patients as though they are to be governed and not part of a collaborative situation.

This interview has been condensed and edited. To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Doctors of B.C. candidates debate.