Doctors Applaud Commitment to Expand Wait Time Strategy

    Province-wide retention program needed for doctors to ensure Budget
    commitments can be achieved

    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - Ontario doctors support commitments made in the
2007 Ontario Budget to include pediatric surgeries in the provincial Wait Time
Strategy (WTS), and the commitment to measure the wait time for all general
surgeries. Doctors remain concerned however, about the number of people -
especially children - without access to a family doctor. According to the
Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Ontario is short 2,000 doctors affecting
one million patients (18+) and 130,000 children.
    "The provincial government has made progress in reducing wait times for a
number of specific procedures and we are pleased by the commitment to measure
all surgical wait times, as doctors have called for," said Dr. David Bach,
President of the OMA. "To ensure wait times continue to fall, Ontario needs a
comprehensive doctor retention strategy to keep our current doctors in
practice and to attract doctors to the province."
    While the government has taken steps to improve the physician supply by
increasing medical school enrollment and by establishing a health human
resources strategy, a program is needed to ensure our older doctors continue
to practice until new medical graduates are ready to care for patients.
According to the OMA, a large portion of Ontario's physicians are over age 60
and Ontario would lose 2,500 doctors if those over the age 65 choose to retire
at the traditional retirement age.
    Doctors remain concerned that Ontario lags behind other countries in the
adoption of health Information Technology (IT) and the benefits it represents
to patient care. Although there is funding earmarked for Electronic Health
Records in the 2007 Budget, it falls short of what is needed to implement a
province-wide system.
    Spending on health infrastructure is not keeping pace with what is needed
to maintain and improve our hospitals and health facilities. As a percentage
of the overall health budget, health infrastructure spending represents only
2.25 per cent of the total health budget.

    The OMA welcomes additional investments made in children's mental health
services, colorectal screening and promoting physical activity. "Taken
together, these funding commitments represent positive steps towards improving
patient care in a number of important areas, but they all hinge on having
enough doctors to be realized," added Dr. Bach.

For further information:

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

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Ontario Medical Association

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