Chamber Win: Province Announces Investments to Retain and Recruit More Physicians in Rural and Northern Manitoba

Jul 21, 2023 | Advocacy in Action, Front Page, Government News, Health Care, Policy

On July 20th, the Government of Manitoba announced that it had reached a comprehensive tentative agreement with Doctors Manitoba for a new Physician Services Agreement, including a $268 million investment over four years for physician compensation and medical practice expenses, including staffing, equipment, and clinic space costs. The agreement also includes new rural and northern retention and recruitment incentives and additional funding to help stabilize physician coverage in rural hospitals and remote First Nations communities. Read the Government of Manitoba announcement here. 

The targeted funding for rural and northern health is especially noteworthy given a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Doctors Manitoba joint report from October 2022 with recommendations to attract and retain more physicians to rural and Northern Manitoba. The report, titled Manitoba‘s Physician Shortage: Manitoba Physician Recruitment & Retention Recommendations from the Rural & Northern Health Summit, provided five recommendations with supporting actions to recruit and retain more doctors, including: 

  • 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 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. 

We are pleased to see that this week’s provincial government announcement directly targets supports for physician recruitment and retention in rural and Northern Manitoba. Accessible health care is important to all Manitobans, including to the business community, and reliable, quality care is essential to rural and northern economies. 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.  

The initiatives announced this week by the Premier and Minister of Health are critically important in addressing the serious challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of physicians in rural and northern Manitoba. The new Physician Services Agreement is also important to begin to address challenges more broadly throughout the health system, including wait times and access to family physicians, which is something that our members have made clear is critically important to the economic health of Manitoba. 

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