In today’s message you will find:
- Government Announcement
- Important Health Card News
- Respiratory Virus Updates
- CMA Election — Voting Starts Next Week
- Update on Federal Funding Offer
- Physician of the Week
- Health in the News
- Louis Riel Weekend
- Upcoming Events
Earlier this week, Doctors Manitoba joined another government event announcing more funding to address the physician shortage.
The announcement had three components, which we expand on below:
- A new investment to support physician health
- A major expansion of medical school and IMG training
- The extended hours for primary care initiative.
Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba, explained that the government’s announcement “all directly respond to advice we’ve offered on behalf of physicians.”
Indeed, the CBC explained in its coverage that “The latest announcements are part of a health human resources action plan the province announced last fall following pleas from Doctors Manitoba for the province to prioritize physician recruitment, retainment, mental health supports and ways of cutting down on paperwork and administrative burdens, among other issues.”
These actions build on other recent government announcements, based on our recommendations, focused on improving physicians’ work and improving recruitment and retention:
- Agreeing to a Joint Task Force to reduce physician administrative burdens
- Funding VECTRS, a centralized service for urgent specialty consultation and coordinating patient transfers
- Allowing physicians in community health clinics and ACCESS Centres to resume and bill for their after-hours work
- Adding group psychotherapy to billable virtual visits
- Extending funding for additional emergency physician coverage
New Investment in Physician Health
The government will provide $450,000 in funding to expand peer support and counselling services through Doctors Manitoba physician health initiatives. The program offers peer support networks and training for peer supporters, as the support of colleagues has been shown to improve overall wellness and help reduce the risk of burnout.
Dr. Shelley Anderson, our Medical Lead for Physician Health and Wellness, explained that burnout is “the biggest threat to physician retention” and reminded us that half of physicians are experiencing high degrees of burnout. “In the context of a major physician shortage, and record levels of burnout, this help is coming when it is really needed most,” she added.
The peer support and counselling services will be expanded over the next few months to keep up with “the increase in calls for support that we have seen and continue to see on a regular and frequent basis.”
In the meantime, if you, a colleague, or a family member need any support, our robust services are available. Learn more here.
Medical School Expansion
The government will fund a significant expansion of medical school and more training to support international medical graduates (IMGs). This includes:
- 40 more seats for undergraduate medical education, a 36% expansion from the current 110 seats
- 10 more seats for the one-year international medical graduate program
- 30 seats in a postgraduate medical education program for internationally educated medical students
“We are pleased with this three-pronged approach of expanding medical school seats, increasing the number of international medical graduates and increasing the number of postgrad residency seats in family medicine aimed at Canadians studying abroad,” explained Dr. Peter Nickerson, Dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine. The 40 medical school seats will be phased in over the next few years, in a way that Dr. Nickerson described as “pretty rapid.”
Extended Hours for Primary Care
We have already shared the news with you in recent weeks about a new 20% premium for extended hours in primary care, and this week the government announced it publicly. The extended clinic hours premiums are available to Family Physicians, General Practitioners and Paediatricians who are registered to bill from either the bloc of general practice or paediatrics.
The extended hours initiative is optional and is not meant to add to physician burnout. In fact, it has the potential to offer more options for physicians. Dr. Anderson explained “it might be able to add some flexibility, so if people wanted to choose their work hours later into the evening, or into those typical off-hour periods of time, that actually might be better for their own personal needs. Anything that allows for a little bit more control and agency over how care is provided will help physicians’ well-being overall.”
We were encouraged by Health Minister Audrey Gordon’s commitment at the event that there would be no cap on the extended hours premium.
You can learn more about the new premium here:
In our recent webinar on the extended hours premium, feedback was largely positive. Of the 80 physicians who participated in the webinar, 40% said they would start or expand extended hours in their practice, and another 37% said the new premium would help them maintain their existing extended hours.
Our Past President Dr. Kristjan Thompson attended the event this week. He said “we’re optimistic that this funding will be an incentive for clinics to provide these hours and then, hopefully, those who are already providing the hours, will continue to do so in the face of inflation and rising costs.”
The extended hours premium is an innovative and unique approach in Canada to support clinics with offering extended hours. It was approved by Manitoba Health as provisional for 18 months, with a commitment that it will be evaluated. We are already collecting feedback to improve the tariffs, and we welcome your suggestions as you start using the new extended hours tariffs. We are here to answer your questions and offer advice about optimizing your practice for extended hours. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Important Health Card News
Manitoba Health Card Numbers Changing
Physicians and office staff should take note that Manitoba Health is updating the format of the Family Registration Number from six numerical characters to six alphanumeric characters (e.g. A12345). This change affects only NEW Family Registration Numbers. Any current numbers will remain unchanged and Manitoba Health cards will continue to look the same as they do today.
This change only affects the six-digit Family Registration Numbers, not the nine-digit Persona Health Identification Numbers.
Alphanumeric Family Registrations Numbers for new clients are not expected to be issued until March 2023. A communication will be provided when this takes place.
When using an alphanumeric Family Registration Number in any system, the alpha characters must be entered with capital letters to maintain data integrity. The Family Registration Number will never contain any non-English language characters, special characters, and will not contain the letters B, I, Z, S, T, Q, G, and O to avoid any confusion between letters and numbers that may look similar on a printed form.
Be Sure to Check Ontario Patients’ OHIP cards!
Ontario residents receive a plastic OHIP card for health services, which includes a photo and also an expiry date. The Ontario government stopped mailing out paper renewal notices for OHIP cards that expired after March 1, 2022, except to specific groups. The media is reporting that Ontario medical clinics are seeing an increasing number of patients with expired cards.
You should ensure any Ontario patient presenting for medical services has a current OHIP card. If the card has expired, you may not be compensated for treating the patient and you should consider this to be an uninsured service.
Respiratory Virus Updates
Manitoba Public Health produces a weekly report on respiratory viruses. Below are highlights from this week’s report.
This week’s report covers the week ending February 11. While the report notes similar activity for COVID compared to recent weeks, there are some increases in indicators, though still in the lower range. Highlights include:
- There were 36 hospital admissions, up significantly from 11 last week following a continued steady decline over the last several weeks. This week included 5 ICU admissions, up from 3 last week. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16, 2022.
- There were 2 COVID deaths recorded over the last week.
- There were 108 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba, up from 65 last week.
- The test positivity rate was 18.6%, up from 10.7% last week.
- Wastewater surveillance data up to February 7 indicated sustained activity of COVID-19 in Winnipeg and Brandon at lower levels.
Other COVID updates:
- Manitoba Health advises that changes have been made to the Manitoba immunization card and verifier apps. People who previously downloaded the immunization card app will have Manitoba QR code access but that will be removed in a future update to the app. The updated app will continue to display pan-Canadian proof of vaccination credentials (PVC), and COVID-19 immunization information can continue to be updated. The Manitoba verifier app used by businesses to confirm immunization status has been discontinued. Both apps have been removed from the Apple and Google Play stores. Additionally, physical Manitoba immunization cards are no longer being provided.
- Manitoba Health advises the vaccine clinic located at 1680 Notre Dame Ave. will provide its final immunizations on Feb. 25.
- On February 23, 2023, National Kids and Vaccines Day, ScienceUpFirst will hold a Town Hall at 7 PM CST. The town hall will bring together healthcare leaders and experts from across disciplines to help move the needle (pun intended) and promote vaccine confidence for Canada’s children.
Influenza & RSV
This week’s report shows similar influenza activity. Highlights include:
- Test positivity for influenza A was 0.5% this week, down slightly from 0.8% last week. The predominant strain circulating right now is still Influenza A (H3N2), with 5 lab confirmed cases (up from 3 last week) and there are still no cases of Influenza B reported.
- There was 1 hospital admission as a result of flu/RSV (up form 0 last week).
- There were 1,361 respiratory related visits to EDs in the province this week, up from 1,251 last week.
- RSV is also circulating with a 4.8% test positivity rate, down from 6.2% last week.
CMA Election — Voting Starts Next Week
This year, it’s Manitoba’s turn to elect the next President. Voting for the next CMA President opens on February 22. The four candidates include Dr. Cory Baillie, Dr. Anthony Battad, Dr. José François, and Dr. Joss Reimer.
The CMA has extended the deadline to join or renew your membership so you can participate to 12pm central on Tuesday, February 21. Do not assume you are a CMA member. Your Doctors Manitoba membership is separate from the CMA, and receiving emails from CMA or a subscription to CMAJ does not mean you are an active CMA member.
We have set up a page with information about how to ensure you are a current CMA member along with information about each candidate. Check it out here.
The CMA hosted a Meet the Candidates Forum on February 13. A recording is available to watch on-demand here.
Update on Federal Funding Offer
Last week, we provided a summary of the ten-year health funding offer from the federal government, what it means for Manitoba, and reactions. You can see our summary here.
The Premiers met and announced on Monday they would agree to accept the federal funding offer, though they said it’s nowhere near what they asked for. Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who is chair of the premiers’ Council of the Federation, said premiers “believe it’s a step in the right direction, but we also recognize that it doesn’t deal with that long-term sustainability of health-care funding challenges that we all face in our provinces and territories. So we will be writing to the prime minister to talk about and to address some of those issues.”
Further details emerged about what’s on the table for Manitoba. Under the new deal, our province will receive an additional $194 million for the 2023/24 fiscal year, about a 10% jump in federal health funding, but only about 2% of the total $7.2 billion health budget in Manitoba.
“This will have a very small impact in our overall budget,” Premier Heather Stefanson was quoted as saying in the Free Press. “Having said that, it will make a difference.” Premier Stefanson said her government will direct the $194 million towards surgical and diagnostic backlogs, health human resources, long-term care, home care, and mental health and addictions services in its upcoming spring budget. The Premier is sitting down today (Friday) with Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos to further discuss how Manitoba will use its money.
Doctors Manitoba is preparing a submission as part of the province’s pre-budget consultation process to reinforce physicians’ priorities.
Physician of the Week
Dr. Tunji Fatoye continues to follow the advice he received from his parents when he first started medical school 35 years ago in Lagos, Nigeria:“Remember, it’s not about you. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated”. He originally went into medicine out of curiosity and fell in love with the profession. Dr. Fatoye values the relationships he has built over his career and says,“the best part of being a physician is caring for the patient in front of me first as a person, then helping to manage their ailment, illness or disease as best I can.” A patient-first practitioner, he is described as“friendly, approachable, and level-headed” by colleague Dr. Pam Skrabek. Read more about Dr. Fatoye here.
What is Physician of the Week?
For 2023, we have established a new way to recognize dedicated and hardworking physicians. The Doctors Manitoba Physician of the Week will exemplify the best of the medical profession, including a commitment to delivering exceptional patient care, to supporting the health and wellness of their colleagues, and/or to leadership in the medical profession. You can suggest a colleague as Physician of the Week here.
Health in the News
Another busy week of health news. We’ve curated the top stories with exclusive access to subscription-only content.
DRMB in the News
- Pilot program offers bonuses to family docs to expand hours • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Danielle Silva • Feb 14
- Manitoba offers extra cash to doctors who extend clinic hours, ups number of physician training seats by 80 • CBC Manitoba • Feb 13
- WATCH: CBC Coverage of provincial announcement on funding to address physician shortage
- Help for physicians a solid first step • Brandon Sun (Print Edition) • Feb 13
- Health-care deal draws ire, optimism • Brandon Sun (Print Edition) • Feb 8
Other Health Stories in the News
- Manitoba to get $194M more for health from Ottawa • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Danielle Silva • Feb 15
- Manitoba First Nations leaders remain upset by exclusion from health care talks • The Winnipeg Sun • Journalism Initiative • Feb 12
- Online school for Grades K‑8 in Manitoba will come to an end this school year • CBC Manitoba • Stephanie Cram • Feb 14
- Manitoba nurses quitting amidst mandated overtime, high vacancy rates, no home-life balance • CBC Manitoba • Brittany Greenslade • Feb 15
- Doctors watchdog ‘dropped the ball’: expert • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Katrina Clarke • Feb 15
- Protecting patients needs to be priority • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Tom Brodbeck • Feb 17
- Canadians must fight for public health care • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Thomas Linner • Feb 15
Here are some of our top recent posts, in case you missed them.
- The Doctors Manitoba By-Laws have been reviewed and we encourage feedback on the modernization of governance.
- Last week we announced our 2023 Resident of the Year, Dr. Alwyn Gomez! Stay tuned as we announce other winners in the coming weeks!
- Following our advocacy, the province announced a new Joint Task Force to Reduce Physician Administrative Burden
- We’ve got Important Reminders for Virtual Visits, most notably a reminder that it is individual physicians’ responsibility to meet the requirements for both Manitoba Health billing and CPSM standards.
- BASE™ eConsult MB is now available to physicians.
Louis Riel Weekend
This Louis Riel Long weekend be sure to take in one of many events and take time to learn more about the historic leader and Manitoba’s first premier, who led the Red River Métis and paved the way for Manitoba as we know it today.
- The Manitoba Métis Federation of Manitoba has 5 Ways Louis Riel’s words ring true today.
- There are many events being held across the province, including Festival du Voyager!
Upcoming events are always listed on our events calendar.
Session 1: Intent, Harm and Action: Understanding Bias, Discrimination and Racism in Healthcare — March 20, 2023 6:30 – 8 PM
Dr. Sharda’s presentation explores the concept of bias and implicit bias. It challenges the notion that physicians are‘neutral’ and‘objective.’ She will provide definitions of bias, racism and colonialism and explain how power (personal and social) is needed to create and maintain systems of oppression. She will delineate systems vs interpersonal discrimination and how they feed into each other. Dr. Sharda will speak about intent vs impact (and harm) and provide examples from the healthcare context about how this harm can manifest to patients, physicians, and learners. She will introduce the ideas of privilege and oppression via the Coin Model of Privilege. Dr. Sharda’s presentation offers an approach for students, doctors and medical professionals to start their journey of learning and unlearning — drawing on the concepts of Miller’s Pyramid, narrative humility and critical allyship and provides guided opportunities to self-reflect on the concepts presented.
The Doctors Manitoba Physician Health and Wellness committee is excited to launch a new opportunity for building connection and community in medicine. Join us for the first virtual meeting of the Doctors Manitoba Book Club. We will be reading the Giller Prize winning novel“The Sleeping Car Porter” by Suzette Mayr.
We are thrilled to have the author joining us for our virtual book club for a Q+A. There will also be an a chance for the group to discuss the book and share thoughts. Register now!
- Kids and Vaccines Town Hall — February 23, 2023 — 7pm
- EHN Canada Webinar: Suicide Ideation — February 23, 2023 — 11am
- The Queering the Compass- Pathways to 2S/LGBTQIA+ Sexual and Reproductive Health — March 23, 2023