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Canada’s Primary Care Crisis: 22% Lack Access to Family Doctors

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A recent survey conducted by a Toronto-based research team has shed light on the state of primary healthcare in Canada, revealing deep dissatisfaction and widespread frustration among Canadians. With a severe shortage of family doctors, the country’s health system is grappling with accessibility issues that are impacting millions of individuals nationwide.

Key Findings:

  • The OurCare Initiative, led by Dr. Tara Kiran, conducted a national survey involving 10,000 Canadians, revealing significant concerns about the healthcare system’s ability to provide timely and high-quality care.
  • Approximately 22% of Canadian adults, equivalent to 6.5 million people, do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner they can see regularly, a situation referred to as an “attachment crisis.”
  • Access to primary care is particularly limited in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, with nearly one-third of residents reporting no primary care provider.
  • Canada lags behind other wealthy countries in terms of primary care access, with many individuals spending years on waiting lists to access a general practitioner.
  • Only 35% of survey respondents reported being able to secure a same-day or next-day appointment when needed, indicating significant challenges in accessing timely care.

Recommendations:

  • The report calls for urgent action to address primary care gaps, emphasizing the need to recruit and train more doctors and nurse practitioners.
  • Accelerating licensing processes for foreign-trained healthcare professionals could provide immediate relief to the health human resource crisis.
  • There is a need to dismantle barriers that prevent foreign-trained physicians from returning to Canada to practice.
  • The expansion of team-based primary care and the implementation of a robust virtual care regime are suggested to increase access and reduce physician burnout.
  • The OurCare Standard, which includes making medical records easily accessible to patients online, is proposed as a framework for improving primary care across provinces and territories.

Conclusion:

The findings of the OurCare Initiative highlight the urgent need for transformative changes in Canada’s primary healthcare system. By addressing key issues such as physician shortages, access barriers, and the adoption of innovative care models, policymakers can work towards ensuring that all Canadians have access to timely, high-quality primary care services.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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