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OCFP Statement

May 8, 2024

Family doctors are the foundation of Ontario’s health system, and, for years the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) has been sounding the alarm that family medicine is in crisis. We’ve been clear that Ontario can turn this crisis around by recognizing the vital role of family doctors and urgently providing them with the support they need to care for Ontarians.  

The OCFP recognizes and supports the role of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) to negotiate the Physician Service Agreement with the Ministry of Health. However, we are also a voice for family medicine and have been steadfast in advocating on behalf of family doctors.  

As negotiations move to arbitration, the OCFP agrees with statements made by the OMA and the Section on General and Family Practice (SGFP) that the government’s proposed compensation for family doctors would further exacerbate the crisis. 

Compensation has not kept pace with inflation and does not reflect the increasingly complex care they provide. On top of that, family doctors lack team support and are struggling to manage overwhelming administrative tasks that can take, on average, 19 hours a week. Adding to the challenges, costs of running a family practice have increased 25 per cent.

There have already been too many media stories about family doctors, such as Dr. Ramsey Hijazi, Dr. Fan-Wah Mang and Dr. Natalie Leahy closing their clinics. These aren’t isolated cases. In a 2023 survey, 65 per cent of family doctors told the OCFP they plan to leave or change their practice in the next five years.  

Data further proves there are significant recruitment and retention issues in Ontario.  

We’ve seen a steady decline in the number of medical students choosing family medicine as their first choice. And once they graduate, they are not choosing to practice comprehensive family medicine. The proportion of family doctors who are comprehensive practitioners has declined from 77.2% in 2008 to 70.7% in 2019, leaving fewer Ontarians with access to the kind of cradle-to-grave care they expect. 

Ontario needs family doctors. And yet, there are already 2.3 million Ontarians without a family doctor – with 1 in 4 projected to be without one by 2026.  

The Ontario government must recognize the essential role of family doctors. The care and expertise they provide cannot be replaced, and compensation should reflect their true value to patients and the health system.  

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