The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) and Doctors Manitoba today released a joint report with recommendations to attract and retain more physicians to rural and Northern Manitoba. The recommendations are based on stakeholder feedback from a rural health summit held last month and supported by extensive research and additional expert consultation.
“Manitoba has one of the biggest physician shortages in Canada, and this is hitting particularly hard in many rural, Northern and Indigenous communities,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. “It must be a top priority to recruit and retain more doctors, and this is going to require an ‘all-hands’ approach if Manitoba is going to succeed in an intensely competitive national and global environment. We owe it to Manitobans to work together to get them the care they need close to home.”
“Accessible health care is important to all Manitobans, including our members, and reliable, quality care is essential to rural and northern economies,” said Chuck Davidson, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce President & CEO. “Health care is indeed an economic issue because without a strong health care system, we simply can’t support the attraction of new residents, we can’t promote tourism with confidence, and we restrict Manitobans’ ability to age in place. We are very pleased with the outcome of this process, while acknowledging that there will be significant work required from a variety of system contributors.”
The report includes five recommendations with supporting actions to recruit and retain more doctors. This includes:
- Recruiting more physicians by expanding training, streamlining recruitment efforts, and identifying financial supports for transition to practice.
- Finding efficiencies to free up physicians’ time for more patient care, including by making it easier for physicians to consult other
physicians to guide care.
- Addressing physician burnout, the single biggest risk to physicians leaving practice, by reducing the administrative burden, reviewing on-call expectations, and improving physician engagement.
- Retaining physicians in practice for longer with better peer support and mentorship, assisting with physician infrastructure costs, and enhancing the physician retention program.
- Supporting the important role local communities and chambers of commerce can play in recruiting and retaining physicians and their families.
The recommendations were developed during a consensus-building exercise at the rural health summit. More than 100 participants attended, including physicians, health system executives and administrators, and community and business leaders. A post-summit consultation survey with both organization’s memberships sought validate of outcomes and collected further feedback, receiving more than 450 responses.
The report has been submitted to the Minister of Health for the government’s consideration. Both Doctors Manitoba and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce have offered to advise the government on the implementation, including identifying appropriate organizations to lead each of the recommendations and actions.