Fixing Doctor Shortage Must Be Top Priority for Provincial Government


    Ontario needs to be attractive and competitive as Canadian and U.S.
    doctor shortage grows.

    TORONTO, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - Ontario's doctors are calling on the provincial
government to tackle the urgent pressures facing the province's health-care
system. The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is urging a renewed focus on
ensuring everyone in Ontario has access to a family doctor and the resources
necessary for timely, quality care are available for patients.
    "Doctors are working hard to provide care to as many patients as they
can, but we are under enormous pressure with one of the worst physician to
patient ratios in the country," said Dr. Janice Willett, President of the OMA,
"We need immediate action from the province to make Ontario the destination of
choice for Canadian doctors; we need to be competitive with provinces like
British Columbia and Alberta who are attracting the most doctors from across
the country."
    Recent data shows Ontario is not keeping up. Ontario ranks 7th among 10
Canadian provinces in terms of physician to population ratios. Ontario has 176
doctors per 100,000 people, while Nova Scotia ranks first with 218 doctors per
100,000 people. The latest CIHI report reveals that Ontario recorded a net
loss of 14 doctors to other provinces, where as B.C. and Alberta both gained
doctors.During the provincial campaign, the OMA surveyed candidates and the three
main parties on their support for several key policies to improve patient
care. Doctors are encouraged by the support all three parties showed for:
    -  making Ontario competitive with other provinces to recruit Canadian-
       trained doctors to the province and to encourage practising doctors to
       stay here;
    -  significant investments into e-health capabilities in the province;
    -  interest deferral on student loans for Ontario's medical students;
    -  dedicated provincial support to ensure every Ontarian has access to a
       family doctor.Currently, Ontario is short over 2,000 doctors leaving one million adults
and 130,000 children without access to a family doctor. In addition to the
current doctor shortage, 19 per cent of practising physicians are over the age
of 60 and 11 per cent are over the age of 65, as a result, Ontario could stand
to lose another 2,500 doctors to retirement.
    "The doctor shortage is not limited to Ontario, it spans across Canada
and North America, which means wide-spread competition for Ontario doctors,"
said Dr. Willett. "Other provinces have already recognized the need to be
competitive with other jurisdictions and have taken steps to make their
province an attractive place to practise medicine."
    A recent survey from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) revealed that
access to resources is one of the most important factors to recruiting and
retaining doctors. As a result of this trend, Dr. Willett is calling on the
province to focus on recruitment and retention and ensure that health-care
professionals, hospitals and communities are equipped with the necessary
resources and latest technology to provide safe, effective care.
    "Throughout the campaign period, polls showed that health care is the top
priority for Ontarians," said Dr. Willett. "Now that the election is over we
need to get back to fixing the doctor shortage and making sure that patients
can get the tests and treatments they need."




For further information: please call OMA Media Relations at (416)
340-2862 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862.