Doctor Shortage Reaches All-Time High
A new national report finds the physician shortage in Manitoba grew by 13% last year, with over 400 more doctors now needed to reach the national average.
“The physician shortage in our province continues to grow, and it’s now bigger than ever,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. “The doctor shortage affects all Manitoba families, whether you’re trying to find a family doctor, waiting to see a specialist, worried about overwhelmed ERs, or stuck in the surgery and testing backlog.“
The new report, released last week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, provides historical and inter-jurisdictional comparisons updated to 2021. The data 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.
On a positive note, the national report also shows the number of physicians per capita in Manitoba improved last year, from 216 to 217 per 100,000 residents. However, this modest 0.1% improvement is dwarfed by the average national increase of 1.4%. Over the past 20 years, Manitoba has struggled to keep up with other provinces, with the smallest increase in physicians per capita in the nation.