What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?
Finding primary care for your family shouldn’t be an Olympic-level trial. Whether it’s cold-calling clinics, scouring message boards for rumours of a doctor with an opening, or languishing for years on a provincial wait list, finding a doctor for your family can be a part-time job.
And for families without a doctor, every time they feel unwell, they need to decide between powering through or waiting for hours at a clinic – if they can even find one open -- and missing work or school.
We will ensure everyone in Ontario has access to primary care, whether a family doctor or, if they choose, a nurse practitioner.
Ontario can do better. And we will do better.
Why is this important?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Primary care is the foundation of a strong public health care system. Access to primary catches small issues before they become bigger ones, promotes healthier lifestyles and takes pressure off emergent and specialty care. If you have access to a family doctor, you live longer.
Yet in Ontario today, 2.2 million people don’t have access to a family doctor, and Canada lags far beyond our peers in primary care access. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can, and we must do better.
We need more family doctors. We need to support them. And We need to keep them here in Ontario.
It won’t be easy. But other countries have shown us it can be done. And we owe it to the next generation. So let’s work together and make it happen.
What are we proposing?
We recruit more family doctors by:
- Fast-tracking the credentialing of foreign-trained doctors;
- Setting aside medical school spaces for Ontario students and incentivize graduates to choose family practice, especially in rural Ontario; and
- Developing a province-wide, data-driven staffing strategy to get more doctors where they’re needed most.
We support more family doctors by:
- Cutting the paperwork so they can focus on providing care;
- Streamlining how physicians make referrals for specialists, tests and services; and
- Promoting team-based primary care with nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and mental health workers working hand in hand with physicians.
And we keep more doctors here in Ontario by:
- Recognizing their mental health challenges and ensuring they are supported;
- Providing more ways for family physicians to charge the government for the services they provide;
- Making it attractive for retired family doctors to return to practice; and
- Creating mentorship programs pairing new family doctors with established veterans.
This plan, requiring $875 million over six years, will be funded from federal health transfers along with drawing on excessive contingency funds amassed by prolonged underspending in healthcare under the Ford government. It is expected to generate savings over the same period of close to $400 million in emergency care alone. The plan will take approximately six years to deliver a family doctor for all of us.
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