By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has hired a firm to recruit family doctors in a move to address physician shortages in the province.
The Progressive Conservatives hope to recruit 150 family physicians to provide services in all areas of the province with cohorts of 50 doctors allocated for Winnipeg, northern Manitoba and rural communities.
“Family physicians play an integral role in our health-care system. They provide ongoing longitudinal care for patients across the continuum of community, hospital and long-term care,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at a news conference Monday.
Gordon said adding more doctors means Manitobans would get the preventive care they need and help relieve burden in the overall health-care system.
The province has contracted the Toronto-based company Canadian Health Labs to assist with recruitment.
The province also announced it has approved regulatory changes that would allow internationally educated doctors to start working sooner.
Beginning in September, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba is to have the ability to establish more streamlined assessment requirements for fully licensed internationally educated doctors that will speed up the process for applicants from similar jurisdictions to Canada.
This follows the government’s move to amend requirements for internationally educated physicians to pass the first portion of the Medical Council of Canada qualifying exam.
The college said it has heard from international medical graduates and Canadians who have trained overseas that the process was too difficult for specialists to come back to Manitoba.
“These changes will allow the province to bring in more specialists with less burdensome qualification processes,” said Dr. Anna Ziomek, a registrar with the college.
Doctors Manitoba, which represents some 4,000 physicians and students, welcomed the move, saying it will remove unnecessary steps to obtaining a licence in the province.
“This will mean well-qualified international medical graduates will be able to practise sooner, which will help address Manitoba’s physician shortage,” president Dr. Michael Boroditsky said in a release.
The organization has said doctor shortages in the province have reached an all-time high.
A report released last year from the Canadian Institute for Health Information found Manitoba would need 405 more doctors to be on par with the Canadian average of 246 physicians per 100,000 residents.
The Opposition NDP accused the province of ignoring physicians concerns over the past seven years resulting in the physician shortages.
“Premier Stefanson will make election promises now that she never intends to keep,” Uzoma Asagwara, critic for health care, said in a statement.