In this week’s message you will find:

Addressing the Growing Physician Shortage

Yesterday, our President Dr. Candace Bradshaw spoke to our updated analysis based on new national data to highlight the growing physician shortage in Manitoba. The new analysis shows that the physician shortage, defined as the gap between doctors per capita in Manitoba compared to the rest of Canada, has reached a new 50-year high. Over 400 doctors would be needed to attain the Canadian average. 

The analysis, based on a new report released last week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, shows:

  • Manitoba has 217 physicians per 100,000 residents, one of the smallest physician complements in the country on a per capita basis.
  • It would take 405 more doctors in Manitoba to reach the Canadian average of 246 physicians per 100,000 residents.
  • This shortage of 405 physicians is up from 359 last year, an increase of 13% and an all-time high over the five decades of monitoring.

Dr. Bradshaw cautioned that the shortage is on track to continue growing.​“Without a big change, the physician shortage is projected to get even worse in the short term, with 43% of physicians planning on retiring, leaving Manitoba or reducing their clinical hours.” She noted three quarters of those with plans to leave or reduce their practice identified systemic or institutional factors behind their decision.

A couple of weeks ago, the provincial government promised a $200 million health human resource action plan, with several commitments based on Doctors Manitoba advocacy. While this is very encouraging, rapid implementation is needed to support physicians, including those who face regular calls from recruitment sharks” in other provinces. 

We’ve seen a lot of promises and interest and optimism, but we need action,” explained Dr. Bradshaw. When it comes to doctor recruitment and retention in a highly competitive global environment, you snooze, you lose. We have to get on this yesterday.”

Our updated report is part of our ongoing advocacy on behalf of our members to ensure physicians have the support, resources and tools you need to thrive and deliver exceptional patient care. We will continue pressing for swift action. 

Dr. Bradshaw’s update yesterday received strong interest from the news media, including several prominent stories:

You can view our updated analysis here.

Respiratory Virus Update

Manitoba Public Health has shifted from a Thursday COVID report to a Friday weekly report on respiratory viruses, given the triple virus threat in the province right now. Here are highlights from this week’s report.

COVID Surveillance

This week’s report covers the week ending November 19 and shows similar activity to recent weeks. Highlights include:

  • There were 82 hospital admissions, down from 111 last week. This includes 12 ICU admissions, up from 11 last week. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16.
  • There were less than 5 deaths recorded, down from 5 last week. There have now been 2,256 deaths related to COVID-19.
  • There were 314 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba, up from 273 the previous week but down from 411 week before.
  • The test positivity rate was 18.2%, down from 24.5% last week.

New seroprevalence data was released last week by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. It found that:

  • Infection-acquired seroprevalence reached 65.4% by the end of September across Canada, or 74.4% in Manitoba, one of the highest rates among all provinces.
  • 100% of blood donors have spike antibodies present, representing a combination of both vaccine and infection seroprevalence. 
  • Infection-acquired seroprevalence was higher among younger adults than older adults, and higher among racialized groups than while blood donors.

Influenza & RSV

  • Flu has arrived earlier in Manitoba than normally expected. The predominant strain circulating right now is Influenza A (H3N2).
  • Test positivity for influenza A increased from 7.4% last week to 15.6% this week. This is still lower than the national average of 19.2%.
  • So far this season, 40% of flu cases and related hospital admissions have been among children and youth (<18 years). Children under 5 accounted for 15% of cases and 20% of hospital admissions. 
  • RSV is also circulating with a 5.6% test positivity rate, similar to last week.

National Physician Assistant Day on Sunday!

Join us in celebrating the valuable contributions of physician assistants as we mark National PA Day this Sunday, November 27. You can read more about the contributions PAs make in a variety of clinical settings in this story profiling Manitoba PAs and the physicians working with them.

Help Fight Antimicrobial Resistance!

The Manitoba AMR Alliance Campaign is a new initiative inviting healthcare providers to join a community of their colleagues committed to wise antimicrobial use. The campaign draws attention to antimicrobial drug resistance, creating a platform to share resources and ideas for the future. It is a collaboration between the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID), Dr. Terry Wuerz, infectious diseases specialist and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and other Manitoba healthcare leaders.

Physicians are invited to take a pledge to commit to three principles:

  • Think twice before prescribing
  • Educate patients about AMR
  • Prevent the spread of infections. 

The Manitoba AMR Alliance is giving out enamel pins to the first 1,000 participants so providers can share their commitment and spark conversations about antimicrobial stewardship in day-to-day clinical practice.

The campaign website was launched during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), which was this past week. It will be the home to this growing Alliance, as we continue to build a set of resources to support stewardship in Manitoba.

Choosing Wisely Offers Antibiotic Reminder

It’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18 – 24), a global event that aims to increase awareness about antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices among clinicians and the public.

With nationwide antibiotic shortages, it’s important to remember antibiotics don’t work on viral infections like colds or the flu. Choosing Wisely’s suite of tools and resources can help support antimicrobial stewardship efforts and reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics. 

This includes The Cold Standard, a toolkit to provide guidance on using antibiotics wisely for the management of RTIs in primary care. It also includes prescriber tools to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use in both children and adults.

Health System Updates

Is Your Clinic on Medimap?

Yesterday, the WRHA announced that it is now including walk-in clinic wait times on its ER wait time site, in an attempt to help patients with lower acuity medical concerns find a primary care solution instead of heading to an ER or urgent care centre. 

On the site MyRight​Care​.ca, real-time waits for all participating Winnipeg walk-in clinics are now visible. This site, visited over a million times annually, also shows the wait times for ERs, urgent care centres, and walk-in connected care clinics.

The WRHA says providing access to reliable, timely information will better help Winnipeggers seeking health care make the best choices for them and their families, reducing uncertainty and the wait for accessing appropriate care.

The clinic wait times come from a separate third party site called Medimap. This could be a potentially useful tool for physicians and their clinics. With the ability to communicate changes in operating hours or availability in real-time, the clinics can direct more traffic to their location when they have capacity. It will also help reduce the number of people traveling to clinics when there is limited or no more capacity for the day. In addition, reception staff can spend less time answering calls about the wait times and more time on higher value work. 

You can learn more from this one-page infosheet about Medimap. The base service for clinics to post their wait times is free, with a variety of additional feature available, such as giving patients the ability to book an appointment online or join a waiting list. 

Visit MyRight​Care​.ca to see how the walk-in clinics and their wait times are displayed, and visit med​imap​.ca to learn more about how walk-in clinics can leverage Medimap and sign up.

Doctors Manitoba notes that this is an optional opportunity for clinics, and at this time there is no provincial remuneration for signing up and updating medimap. We have heard from some clinics that have found the tool quite valuable, and from others concerned about the daily administrative work to keep wait times updated. We’re interested in your experience and views, as well as if there are other public wait time sites you are using. Contact us at practiceadvice@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.

Tobacco Cessation Initiative

The Tobacco Quit Card and Counselling Program launches on Nov. 28. This program provides counselling and up to $300 in nicotine patches and aids for low-income patients of participating clinics across Manitoba.

Eligible Manitobans will receive: 

  • A Quit Card redeemable at any Manitoba pharmacy to receive up to $300 in nicotine replacement medication.
  • Counselling sessions with a health professional.
  • The Commit to Quit online group program (any Manitoban can register for this program at any time). 

Who can participate?

  • Residents of Manitoba living in any Regional Heath Authority (depending on your health region, eligible individuals may need to be a patient of a participating clinic). See details at www​.shared​healthmb​.ca/TQCC.
  • Manitobans without insurance to cover nicotine replacement products (nicotine patches, gum and other aids) or who find it difficult to afford these medications.
  • Manitobans ready to make a quit attempt within 30 days.

For more information, visit www​.shared​healthmb​.ca/TQCC.

Fantastic Physicians

Dr. Brett Houston was included in CBC’s Future 40 list! Congratulations, Dr. Houston!

From CBC’s website:

Winnipeg-based hematologist Dr. Brett Houston isn’t squeamish about blood — or at least not blood disorders.

The physician works with CancerCare Manitoba at the only provincial clinic dedicated to elderly patients with leukemia and bone marrow failure.

To be able to reach patients who are in a vulnerable position and to provide them with care that hopefully provides them and their family members the support they need at this time in their life is a real privilege,” Houston said. On top of caring for patients, Houston is pioneering a new type of clinic, incorporating research into the routine care of patients, which could catalyze the creation of a hybrid system throughout Manitoba.

One of her current studies involves trialing an inexpensive drug to reduce blood transfusion following major surgery, which could pave the way for a new standard of care following surgery and will help preserve Manitoba’s precious blood supply. We hope to provide better care to Manitobans, but also to expand beyond the Manitoba border as well, so that eventually patients throughout Canada and eventually worldwide can learn from what we’re doing here,” Houston said.

You can also watch a video about Dr. Houston here.

Nominate a Colleague Today!

There’s still time to nominate a colleague for one of our Awards. Nominations are due by December 15, 2022. The Doctors Manitoba Awards are the highest honour in the province for physicians. There is no shortage of physicians who have been demonstrating excellence this year and throughout their careers.

Nominate a colleague today.

There are six different awards available to recognize physicians: 

  • Humanitarian Award (new criteria) – to celebrate a current or former member of Doctors Manitoba for their outstanding contributions to improving human well-being or their commitment to community service. New this year, Doctors Manitoba will now offer to support the humanitarian or community service work of the winner, including a significant financial contribution to the charity or non-profit organization of the award winner’s choice and/​or promoting that charity or non-profit organization and soliciting donations at our Annual Awards Gala. 
  • Physician of the Year Award – to celebrate an exceptional achievement or contribution to the practice of medicine and/​or to the community by a member of Doctors Manitoba. 
  • Resident of the Year – for excellence in academic and clinical training and noteworthy contributions to the resident’s home program/​specialty or residency program.
  • Distinguished Service Award – to recognize a long career of services to patients and the community that embodies the highest standards and ideals of the medical profession, and in the promotion of the art and science of medicine through teaching, writing and administration. This is an excellent option to consider for physicians approaching retirement or who have recently retired.
  • Medal of Excellence – to recognize those who demonstrate excellence in the medical profession and whose actions are a source of inspiration for other physicians. 
  • Special Medal of Excellence for Physician Health — we have designated one Medal of Excellence this year as a special award to recognize a champion for improving physician health and well-being. Nominees should have demonstrated commitment to improving the health and well-being of physicians and/​or medical learners. 

Learn more about the awards criteria and nomination requirements here.

Health in the News

There were a lot of health stories in the news this week. We have curated the top stories to help you stay up to date. 


Here are some important and popular recent updates, in case you missed them:

You’re Invited! Open House December 7

We’re trying something new this year, responding to many members who want more opportunities to connect after a lot of professional isolation during the pandemic. 

Join us for our Holiday Open House at our new(ish) Bannatyne Office!

  • When: Wednesday, December 7, 3:00 — 7:00 PM
  • Where: DRMB @ Bannatyne Office (located at the Joe Doupe Concourse, 2nd floor of the Basic Medical Sciences Building at the UM Bannatyne campus medical school — see map here)
  • Appetizers and drinks will be available. 

Please RSVP by December 1