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OMA warns of worse health-care crisis if province doesn’t address family doctor shortage immediately

TORONTO (Jan 29)– Every region of the province is facing a doctor shortage, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) says adding that it will continue to grow unless immediate action is taken by the government.

A staggering 2.3 million people, are already without a family doctor and that number is expected to nearly double in only two years, the OMA pointed out in a statement.

According to HealthForceOntario, which posts job openings for physicians, there are more than 2,500 physicians needed in the province.

“The implications of people not being able to access primary care are severe,” said OMA President Dr. Andrew Park. “The crisis we have seen unfold in Sault Ste. Marie, leaving thousands of people without a family doctor, will replicate itself across the province. We can’t just sit back and watch this situation get worse. We need to act now so people in Ontario can get care when they need it.”

Ontario’s doctors, represented by the OMA, also warn that family doctors are increasingly considering leaving their practices. Underfunding in OHIP revenue, complicated with rising inflation pressures have made family practice unsustainable. Working conditions that have nothing to do with medicine and result in family doctors spending 40 per cent of their work week on completing forms and trying to navigate patients through a system that is disconnected and fragmented. An OMA survey showed that 40 per cent of physicians are considering retiring in the next five years.

“We have heard from our members that the current situation for family physicians and our specialists is not sustainable,” said OMA CEO Kimberly Moran. “The OMA wants to work with government to ensure there is a future for health care in Ontario.”

The OMA has outlined what the government can do to address to the primary care crisis in its Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ Solutions for Immediate Action. Recommendations include expanding access to team-based care and reducing the burden of unnecessary administration facing doctors.

“The result of the doctor shortage is people left with health-care concerns that need attention. Heart-breaking things can happen when patients don’t have primary care,” said Dr. Park. “Our goal is to make sure everyone in Ontario has access to a family doctor. People are paying for health care through their taxes and they deserve a doctor. Let’s make sure that happens.”

Doctor shortage by region reported by HealthForceOntario

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians advocating for and supporting doctors.

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