Skip to main content

OMA releases progress report on its prescription for primary care

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is sounding the alarm about primary care, once again, following up on a prescription that it wrote the provincial government almost 18 months ago.

OMA found serious issues facing family doctors including what it calls a "crushing administrative burden."

And while it says progress has been made on some fronts, in other cases, including northern Ontario's, the situation is getting worse.

"From the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, it estimates that as of June 2022 that there was a shortage of 364 physicians. It's a fairly significant physician population for the population size that is northern Ontario," said new OMA president Dr. Andrew Park.

Park said the region faces a number of issues, including physical access to care, made more difficult by weather, travel and distance.

According to the OMA, doctors are burning out across the province and in rural, northeastern Ontario.

"The major issue that we are going to need to continue to have programs which are funded and committed to the community level helping to contain and recruit physicians to the northern communities," he said.

"We know that there are some very unique challenges to patients in the north and those are going to require some dedicated solutions. One of the issues we face as health care leaders in the province is that the difference of practice, of two practices across the street is wide and varied when we compare that to the rest of the province. There's an incredible amount of diversity and complexity that comes into how we practice the different patients that we serve and that's a really unique challenge in the north."

Dr. David Barber is a Queen's University professor and family doctor in the Kingston area.

"I think people forget that it's the family doctors that are running the health care system. They're working in emerges, emerg rooms, like Dr. Park is. They're running the hospital, they will sometimes do obstetrics," Barber said.

"You can highlight the north, but the reality is, the reality is this shortage is across Ontario. I mean I don't think that there is any community not affected by this and I think that for me, the idea of looking at this is that it's going to get worse."

New programs have been launched and additional funding has been committed to getting and keeping more doctors locally, but the OMA said the chronic shortage needs urgent attention.

CTV News reached out to the Minister of Health and a spokesperson said they recognize the unique challenges faced by the region.

She writes in part:

"We have launched the largest medical school expansion in 15 years, most recently adding an additional 14 undergraduate and 22 post-graduate seats at the North Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), invested $32 million for resident salaries and benefits, medical education and training, allied health programs, and the Remote First Nations Family Medicine Residency Program at NOSM, funded nearly 80 new physicians through the Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative (NRRRI), funded 150,000 Northern travel Health Travel Grant through a nearly $50 million last year and, as part of Your Health, we are creating up to 18 Ontario Health Teams to help bridge the gap in accessing interprofessional primary care across the province."

The progress report comes as North Shore Health Network announced its fifth emergency room closure in two weeks, citing a lack of appropriate staffing. Top Stories


BREAKING Canadian government reaches C-18 online news deal with Google: sources

The Canadian government will be announcing Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Google over the Online News Act known as C-18, CTV News has confirmed. Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge is slated to unveil the details of the deal during a 1:30 p.m. ET press conference on Parliament Hill.

Stay Connected