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Solutions for Today: Ensuring Every Ontarian Has Access to a Family Physician

January 24, 2023

New recommendations by Ontario’s family doctors

With one-in-five Ontarians on track to be without a family doctor in the next two years, the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) is putting forward bold new ideas to ensure all Ontarians will be able to get the health care they need from a family doctor, when they need it.

“We simply cannot maintain the status quo when it comes to the crisis in family medicine because we know that not all Ontarians are getting the care they need and deserve,” said Dr. Mekalai Kumanan, OCFP President.

When Ontarians don’t have a family doctor, it can lead to more serious health problems and places further pressures on other areas of our overworked healthcare system, including hospitals, emergency departments and long-term care homes.

“We need to attract more family doctors into the profession. We also need to provide the right supports to practicing family doctors so that they can spend more time with their patients,” said Dr. Kumanan.

Currently, family doctors do not have the time they want and need to spend with patients because of backlogs in care, increased demand, more patients with complex illness and an overwhelming administrative burden that can take up to 19 hours a week.

Following extensive consultation with family doctors from across the province, the OCFP developed the policy paper, Solutions for Today: Ensuring Every Ontarian Has Access to a Family Physician. Recommendations include:

  • Enable family doctors to take on more patients, and to see them faster, by hiring an initial 1000 healthcare team members, ie, social workers, mental health workers, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, Indigenous healers, physician assistants, etc. This will provide family doctors with the support they need to free up more time for patients.
  • Increase the time that family doctors spend directly with patients by investing in new and existing initiatives, such as virtual assistants and improving outdated digital systems that will ease the overwhelming administrative burden family doctors are currently experiencing.
  • Ensure Ontarians in the North, rural areas and others in the most under-served populations have equitable access to family physicians by encouraging family physicians to practice in high needs/low access communities.

Ensuring more Ontarians have access to family doctors by fast tracking foreign-trained doctors and increasing family medicine residency spots is also important. The OCFP acknowledges and appreciates the Ontario Government’s efforts to open more family medicine residency training spots and streamline licensing for internationally trained physicians.

“While these are welcome steps, more needs to be done right now,” said Kimberly Moran, CEO, OCFP. “It’s going to require an all-hands-on-deck approach and the OCFP is ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work with the Ontario Government. We want to help make Ontario the world leader in primary care that we know we can be.”

Learn more about the OCFP’s policy solutions in our policy paper, Solutions for Today: Ensuring Every Ontarian Has Access to a Family Physician.

“Innovative ideas like these are a necessary preliminary step to begin solving the complex issues that are affecting primary care. Time and time again, strong primary care systems providing necessary services have been shown to create healthier communities. SGFP knows that patients are best served when everyone has a family physician, family physicians are supported by multidisciplinary teams, and physicians health and wellness is supported.” – Dr Cathy Mastrogiacomo, Chair, the Section on General and Family Practice.

Media Contact

Jay Scull, Manager, Communications

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