This is a joint release from Doctors Manitoba and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

Doctors Manitoba, in conjunction with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, will convene a stakeholder summit this fall to assess rural and Northern Manitoba physician shortages with the goal to deliver recommendations for bolstering physician recruitment and retention. The Summit, planned for September 21, will be held in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and will include invited participants from across industry, healthcare, local and provincial governments, and community development agencies.

I look forward to the recommendations from Doctors Manitoba and the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce,” said Health Minister Audrey Gordon. These two groups have an intimate understanding of the needs of their members and what would attract physicians to these positions that are traditionally difficult to fill. Our government is open to exploring all options to improve the well-being and economic health of our rural and northern communities.”

Manitoba patients are feeling the impact from the physician shortage every day,” explained Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. Manitobans are affected by ER closures, difficulty finding a family doctor, and long waits to get a diagnostic test or surgery. These are longer-term issues affected by a shortage of doctors, and they have been exacerbated by the pandemic over the last two years.”

The Summit will bring together a variety of health, economic development, and community leaders to review current challenges, examine physician recruitment and retention best practices from within Manitoba and from other Canadian jurisdictions, participate in facilitated discussions, and build consensus about the actions and strategies needed to attract and retain more doctors in rural and Northern Manitoba.

Our members told us in a recent survey that health care system recovery and investment is their top concern, because accessible, reliable, and efficient care enables Manitobans to flourish wherever they reside while ensuring the region is attractive to potential new residents and investment,” said Chuck Davidson, President and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. There is a demonstrated direct correlation between a community’s level of physician care, and that community’s economic potential and long-term sustainability. Manitoba’s ability to recruit and retain more doctors will be an important contributor to our future economy.”

Dr. Bradshaw and Mr. Davidson explained that health and economic issues are closely linked, and this Summit will provide an opportunity for leaders from both areas to collaborate and develop strategic approaches.

Economic well-being is one of the biggest contributors to good physical and mental health,” emphasized Dr. Bradshaw.

Many jurisdictions throughout Canada are struggling with a shortage of physicians, but the challenge in Manitoba is concerning: 

  • Manitoba has the lowest number of family physicians per capita in Canada, and the third lowest for specialist physicians according to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
  • 40% of physicians are planning on retiring, reducing their clinical hours, or moving to another province over the next three years, according to a recent survey by Doctors Manitoba. 
  • Nearly half of physicians are showing signs of burnout, which research has shown to be a leading cause for physician retention challenges.

This initiative builds on messaging shared in Doctors Manitoba’s Rural​Care​.ca public awareness campaign and aligns with policies championed by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. Follow-up steps will include the development of a formal report for the consideration of government and health care system representatives, as well as information to be shared with municipalities, rural and Northern hospitals, community leaders, and media.