A new report released last week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows the physician shortage in Manitoba is growing. Manitoba has the second lowest number of doctors on a per capita basis in the country, and the lowest for family physicians. Doctors Manitoba released a summary of the independent national report along with other local data to assist with health human resource planning. 

Manitoba’s physician shortage is getting bigger every year, making it harder for Manitobans to find a family doctor or to access specialist care,” said Dr. Michael Boroditsky, President of Doctors Manitoba. 

The CIHI Report, with data up to 2022, finds:

  • Manitoba has 215 physicians per 100,000 residents, the second lowest in Canada and well below the national average of 247
  • There has been a steady decline in Manitoba’s ranking on physicians per capita from 4th highest in 2002 to second lowest in 2022
  • It would now take 445 more physicians for Manitoba to reach the national per capita average, up from 405 last year.

Supplementary data compiled by Doctors Manitoba shows that on top of a serious shortage of physicians, Manitoba has a significant retention risk as 51% of existing physicians plan on retiring, leaving Manitoba, or reducing their clinical hours in the next three years. The top issues contributing to these plans include feeling burned out, frustration with system issues, excessive administrative burden, and not feeling valued by the health system. 

Dr. Boroditsky offered some reassurance, however. While these statistics are alarming, there is reason to be optimistic,” he added. The province has initiated multiple actions over the last several months that directly respond to advice from physicians about how to reverse our physician shortage.”

These recent actions include expanding physician training, expanding resources for physician services, and increasing retention by reducing burnout and improving satisfaction, such as: 

  • Expanding medical school by 15 spaces this year, with plans to add an additional 25 spaces over the next two years. 
  • A new Physician Services Agreement with historic funding increases for physician services including new competitive models of remuneration.
  • Actions to reduce administrative burdens on physicians. 
  • An attempt to reset the tone in health care with more respect for and engagement with front line physicians. 
  • A robust health plan from the new government including new recruitment incentives, a significant expansion of team-based care, and a commitment to recruit at least 400 more doctors.

You can access our annual summary of physician resources in Manitoba here. The CIHI report is available here (Excel file).