Doctor will repay $100K loan provided as incentive to work in northern Manitoba town
Dr. Andrea Wilson says she broke no agreements, provides virtual care for patients in The Pas from Vancouver
A family doctor who committed to work for a decade in a northern Manitoba community — and then left within two years — says she has agreed to repay a $100,000 interest-free loan provided as a recruitment incentive.
Dr. Andrea Wilson also says she has continued to provide virtual care to patients in The Pas, Man., and has not broken the agreement.
"I have a full and active licence to practice family medicine in Manitoba and have continued to provide services in The Pas since July 1, 2020 — and currently do. My next trip is scheduled for March 2024," Wilson wrote in an email to CBC News. The Pas, which has a population of 5,639, is located about 625 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
Wilson says she has three active medical practices, one in Manitoba and two in B.C., and is a clinical instructor with the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia. However, she says she is not currently working "due to a personal family medical situation."
According to documents filed in Manitoba's Court of King's Bench on Oct. 30, Wilson is being sued by The Pas Community Development Corporation (CDC) for continuing to "refuse and/or neglect to pay the loan."
Loan to be repaid by Dec. 31
The two sides have been in discussions all month and came to an agreement earlier this week.
Wilson provided CBC News with a letter written by CDC lawyer Jonathan Paterson, which said in part: "The Pas CDC is pleased that Ms. Wilson intends to make full payment of the balance owed to the Pas CDC," a lump sum of $100,000.
In an email Thursday evening, Paterson confirmed the terms of resolution were agreed to on Nov. 28.
"We can now confirm that Dr. Wilson has agreed to repay her loan in full by December 31, 2023, after which the Pas CDC will discontinue its claim," Paterson wrote.
"At the time of the previous request for comment the terms of resolution had not yet been finalized, and accordingly the Pas CDC determined it was inappropriate to comment on the without prejudice discussions between the parties."
The lawsuit says Wilson signed a $100,000 loan agreement with CDC on Apr. 1, 2019.
According to court documents, she agreed to work at least 880 clinical hours during each of 10 years of full-time medical services in The Pas between 2020 and 2030, and entered into an Independent Contractor General Practitioner Agreement with the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) on July 1, 2020.
However, the lawsuit alleges Wilson left The Pas on Nov. 7, 2021, and moved to Vancouver.
Agreement signed pre-COVID, doctor says
Wilson disputes that, saying her primary residence was in The Pas until January 2022. She said she moved to B.C. to care for a family member.
Wilson said the agreement she signed does not restrict work outside of The Pas and doesn't specify where she must live. CBC News has not seen the terms of the agreement.
While CDC requested repayment of the loan in 2022, Wilson said the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on the number of hours of clinical service provided through virtual care.
She notes the agreement was signed pre-COVID, before virtual care was an option for medical service delivery. She said that CDC meets "sporadically" and members were unable to meet with her the last time she worked in the community, in January 2023.
"We were simply unable to come to a new iteration of the agreement in a post-COVID landscape nor agree on how to capture hours worked over and above the yearly goal we initially set," she wrote.
"Return of Service agreements are often concluded early when the total hours of service delivery have been completed. We have decided to amicably end the agreement December 31, 2023."
Vancouver clinic rented space to doctor
Last week, the Northern Regional Health Authority said it couldn't comment on a legal case, but said that it is continuously recruiting family physicians. It did not answer questions about if it had been able to replace Wilson.
No one from the NRHA could be reached to confirm what kind of medical service Wilson is currently providing to patients in The Pas.
Meanwhile, the owners of Mint Integrated Health, a Vancouver naturopathic clinic, contacted CBC News to say they rented space to Wilson for one year starting in January 2022.
However, she ran her medical practice there as an independent practitioner and "anything that a practitioner receives from the medical system is dealt with by that practitioner directly and does not go through Mint," said the email statement from owners Bobby Parmar, Alana Shaw and Giselle Chamberlain.
"Mint terminated her rental agreement in January 2023," they wrote. "Dr. Wilson was not compatible with the Mint brand."