Manitoba’s Doctors Ratify New Historic Agreement
Manitoba’s physicians have ratified a new historic Physician Services Agreement with the Manitoba government, which features $268 million in increased funding over four years for physician practices to help stabilize medical services and support physician recruitment and retention.
“The new Physician Services Agreement offers a significant increase in funding for medical services across the province, and that should mean better access to physician care for patients,” said Dr. Michael Boroditsky, President of Doctors Manitoba. “There are funding increases to stabilize and improve medical services in many ways, whether it’s seeing a family doctor or visiting an ER, accessing surgical or diagnostic procedures, or accessing care in Winnipeg, rural or northern communities.”
Doctors Manitoba and the province identified shared priorities focused on improving access to and quality of medical services. This includes:
- Increased funding for specialty and hospital services to help attract more physician coverage.
- A game-changing new funding model for longitudinal family medicine that blends existing volume-based payments with funding for patient panels and time-based stipends, which will improve access to a family physician.
- New rural and northern retention and recruitment incentives and additional funding to help stabilize physician coverage in rural hospitals and remote First Nations communities.
- A permanent funding model for virtual visits, ensuring Manitobans will continue to be able to receive appropriate care by phone or video, if they wish.
The new Agreement was reached following nine months of negotiations and over a year of consultations with physicians. It replaces a previous funding Agreement, which expired on March 31, 2023. The new Agreement includes the following features:
- A basic across-the-board 6.1% increase in funding over four years for physician services.
- Targeted market adjustments to address physician shortages and bring physician remuneration in Manitoba up to competitive levels with neighbouring provinces.
- A Special Retention Bonus for all existing physicians to recognize their continued service in Manitoba.
- A Commitment to consult physicians before changes are made that impact their day-to-day, and to continue efforts to reduce administrative burdens.
“While the Agreement is a significant step forward for supporting physicians and the care they provide, there are several issues that were not fully addressed,” Dr. Boroditsky acknowledged. He pointed to some specific physician groups with ongoing shortages that still require attention, such as certain specialty groups such as geriatric medicine, hospitalists, and those working in remote First Nations communities. “We also hoped to make progress on adopting more team-based care in physician practices, which means adding other health professionals to complement the work of doctors to better serve Manitobans, and that is something we continue to pursue.”
Historically, Manitoba has had one of the lowest ratios of physician per capita in Canada according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information. A Doctors Manitoba survey of physicians earlier this year found 51% are planning on retiring, leaving Manitoba, or reducing their clinical hours over the next three years. Among physicians who own a clinic or practice, two thirds said they are concerned about how to keep their clinic open if nothing changes.
“Our hope is this new Agreement will offer stable, competitive and predictable funding that will help to address Manitoba’s physician shortage,” added Dr. Boroditsky. “Aside from funding, the commitment to consult physicians about changes in the health care system and to continue to address physician burnout suggest the page is turning towards a more collaborative work environment, which increases satisfaction in our clinical work and is vital to retaining doctors in our province.”
The Agreement increases overall funding for medical remuneration in Manitoba, which funds both physician remuneration and the costs to operate medical practices, including staffing, equipment, supplies, clinic space, and other expenses. Doctors Manitoba will be supporting physicians with implementing new funding models as they are introduced in October 2023 and April 2024.
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