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Federal funding helps address family medicine crisis: OMA doctor

The OMA Section on General & Family Practice calls a $3.1 billion health care funding agreement a 'step in the right direction'
2021_07_15 family doctor's office_JG

Canada and Ontario announced a new $3.1 billion funding agreement aimed for health care in Ontario. According to the Government of Canada’s release, “this investment will help increase access to family doctors, reduce wait times, hire more health care workers, and ensure faster care for Canadians, including mental health care.”

Without a doubt, this is a step in the right direction for Ontario given the historic crisis currently underway in family medicine that has left 2.3 million Ontarians are without a family doctor. But Ontario’s family doctors will be closely watching to see that the implementation of this funding agreement leads to the stated desired outcomes.

“Anything that will increase access to family doctors in Ontario is a good thing,” said Dr. David Barber, Chair of the Section on General and Family Practice of the Ontario Medical Association. “But it will be important to see the details of this agreement to better understand how this money will increase access to family doctors, for how many people, and in what time frame. We are badly in need of funding for family medicine to get more family doctors working, but creating new positions is not the only issue. Family doctors that are working right now need financial support to make their practices viable, and support to alleviate our administrative workload. Many family doctors cannot afford to run their practices in the current framework, and that needs to be addressed.

Family doctors spend 19 hours per week on administrative tasks that keep them away from seeing patients. We are hopeful that this new money will be used to support family doctors in keeping their workloads manageable so that we can focus on what we do best: providing comprehensive medical care to all Ontarians,” he said.

The scale and scope of the crisis in family medicine in Ontario is enormous, and will not be solved through this announcement. However, it is a step in the right direction.

About the Section on General & Family Practice

The OMA Section on General & Family Practice (SGFP) represents the more than 15,000 general & family practice physicians of Ontario in negotiations and advocacy. Our primary beneficiaries are family, general and focused practice physicians. SGFP also works collaboratively with our primary care partners, patient advocates, and all system stakeholders. We believe that we can achieve the goal of a high-performing integrated health system by working together.