As many Canadians struggle to find a family doctor, the Canadian Medical Association is calling for immediate government action.
In a statement from Dr. Katharine Smart, the head of the CMA, says, “Both family doctors and those seeking care are sounding the alarm bells. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is urging key stakeholders to work together to address the structural issues that are decimating primary care across the country.”
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The group calls the current situation “a growing crisis.”
Statistics Canada reported in 2019 that approximately 4.6 million Canadians did not have regular access to a primary care provider.
And a concerning supply and demand gap is developing: in December 2021, 2,400 family physician positions were advertised on government recruitment websites across Canada. In 2020, however, just over 1,400 family physicians exited the postgraduate training system to enter practice.
Smart adds the group is calling on governments to partner with family doctors to find solutions, including the creation of a nationwide data framework to better assess and project future family medicine needs across the country.
The CMA says, “We need federal leadership and collaboration with provinces and territories to reimagine family medicine and move to interdisciplinary team-based care. This will improve efficiency, increase health system capacity and better meet the needs of patients and physicians in a holistic, responsive and timely manner.”
According to the CMA, the average age of today’s family doctors is 49 years.