A new report finds Manitoba has the second-lowest number of doctors per capita in the country, with additional data showing the province has a ‘significant’ retention risk for the majority of its remaining physician population.
The report was released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information citing data collected in 2022. It found Manitoba has 215 physicians per 100,000 residents, which is below the national average of 247. It also notes the province has been on a steady decline from fourth highest in 2002 to second lowest in 2022.
The report concludes it would take 445 more physicians for Manitoba to reach the national average, up from 405 last year. Manitoba also now has the fewest family doctors per capita in Canada.
Additional data from a February 2023 survey by Doctors Manitoba(opens in a new tab) shows the province has a risk of losing the majority of the physicians it already has, with 51 per cent planning on retiring, leaving Manitoba or reducing clinical hours in the next three years.
That’s an increase of nearly nine per cent from last year. When asked what he attributes this change to, the organization’s president Dr. Michael Boroditsky says morale continues to be low.
“It’s hard to go to work. That’s probably the biggest thing that is palpable when you’re on the front lines and in the action.”
The top issues contributing to the high retention risk, the organization says, are burnout, frustration with systemic issues, excessive administrative burden and not feeling valued by the health system. Boroditsky notes these issues predate the COVID-19 pandemic, but have gotten worse in its wake.
“I think there are multiple issues raised that have come to a head, that have been glaring,” he said.
“Our population has been growing at a far greater rate than our physician support, even though we have had an increase in physician numbers. We’re just not growing at a proper rate.”
However, Dr. Boroditsky says there is reason for optimism. He notes the province has taken action over the last several months to address some of these issues, including expanding the medical school by 15 spaces this year, a new physician service agreement with funding increases and actions to reduce administrative burdens on physicians.
Boroditsky is also optimistic about the many health-care promises made by the newly elected NDP government including adding hundreds more doctors, recruitment incentives and investments in team-based care in physicians’ clinics.
“We hope to see this work get moving as soon as possible.”
DATA SHOWS PROVINCE’S URGENT NEED TO STAFF-UP HEALTH-CARE: KINEW
Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew says the data illuminates the health-care staffing shortages Manitobans have known about for some time. During the election, Kinew pledged to add 400 new doctors to Manitoba’s workforce, which is 45 shy of the number needed to bring the province up to the national average.
Kinew says he will adjust his target but for now, he’s focusing on clearing the 400 mark.
“That was the best available evidence while we were in that period of time, but our target will be to ensure that there is no doctor shortage in Manitoba in the future.”
Source: CTV News Winnipeg