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Manitoba has the second-lowest number of physicians per capita

“Unfortunately I’m here today to report that Manitoba’s doctor shortage, which is already at record highs is getting even bigger.”

Stark words coming from the head of Doctors Manitoba amid new numbers showing the province trailing behind when it comes to the number of physicians it has.

report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information last week shows that Manitoba had 215 physicians per 100,000 residents in 2022, down from 217 in 2021.

“Each province chooses the way they provide services. There are some provinces that choose to have more physicians and less nurses, or vice-versa,” said Ruolz Ariste, Program Lead, Health Human Resources, Canadian Institute for Health Information

Doctors Manitoba says the province has seen a steep decline in national rankings when it comes to the number of physicians available per capita in the province, once ranking 4th highest back in 2002.

Now, the province is not only below the national average of 247, but Manitoba has the second-lowest number of physicians per capita in the country.

“When we look at family doctors, Manitoba has now the fewest per capita in Canada, in other words, we have the biggest shortage in family doctors in the country,” said Dr. Boroditsky.

According to Doctors Manitoba, there would need to be an additional 445 physicians to get to the national per capita average.

During the campaign trail, Manitoba’s NDP pledged to hire 400 physicians in five years.

Now, newly minted Premier Wab Kinew has committed to the 445 number Doctors Manitoba says the province needs.

“Our target is to ensure there is no doctors shortage in Manitoba in the future,” said Kinew.

But for residents like Kayla Gordon, relief can’t come fast enough.

Gordon was left without a family doctor she estimates, for at least six months back in 2018.

While she has a family doctor now, she says the lack of physicians still makes it hard to receive specialized care in the province.

“The medical system right now is suffering. I had to have some back surgery, I was on the list forever and never got it in Manitoba. I had to go to California to have my surgery done,” said Gordon.

Gordon’s husband also needed to have surgery recently but wasn’t able to do it in Manitoba.

“My husband just had knee surgery; we were sent to Kenora for that. We had the option of going to Kenora, Dryden, or Fargo. He chose to have it in Kenora, he’s back home now. He had it done a few weeks ago.”

Doctors Manitoba also says the province is suffering from a recruitment and retention issue, with 51 per cent of physicians looking to retire, leave the province, or reduce their clinical hours in the next three years.

Despite that, the group says there have been strides taken in order to fill the gap in physicians in the province.

“These steps include expanding physician training, finalizing a new funding agreement for physician services, and working towards a better working environment for doctors by reducing administrative burden,” said Boroditsky.

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