September 26, 2013 5:52 pm
Updated: September 27, 2013 8:54 am

Fewer doctors working in Manitoba, report says

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WINNIPEG — There were fewer doctors working in Manitoba in 2012 than the year before, a new report says — but the Manitoba government disputes the report.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released its Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians 2012 report Thursday. It shows Manitoba as the only province in Canada not to have an increase in doctors in 2012.

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The report says there were 2,462 physicians in Manitoba in 2012 compared to 2,490 in 2011 — a decrease of 28. The report shows a decrease both in family physicians (10 fewer in 2012 than the year before) and in specialists (18 fewer in 2012 than the year before).

There were 193 doctors per 100,000 Manitobans in 2012 — a drop of five from the year before.

Manitoba is the only province that didn’t report an increase in doctors. On the other end of the spectrum, British Columbia and Newfoundland both saw the largest increases of doctors in their provinces. The smallest increases were in Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald said the CIHI report uses a less accurate measure than the province when calculating numbers of physicians.

“According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Manitoba has more doctors than ever before, with 2,599 doctors today — that’s 562 more than in 1999, including over 120 more doctors in rural and northern Manitoba. From 1992 to 1998 the number of doctors in Manitoba was reduced to 2,016 from 2,133, an overall loss of 117 practicing physicians across the province,” said Naline Rampersad.

“With regard to this report from CIHI, we’re pleased to see this report notes that from 2007 to 2011 Manitoba recruited doctors at more than twice the rate of our population growth and that Manitoba has twice as many doctors practicing in rural areas than the national average, including more than any other province west of the Maritimes,” Rampersad said.

“We also know, however, that CIHI collects their data differently than the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manitoba, which is the independent source by which Manitoba Health measures our doctor gains every year. For instance, with the CIHI report, doctors have to give their consent for their info to be part of this database, meaning it is something of a voluntary database. It also doesn’t include fully licensed residents and also requires a physician’s mailing address as their home practice, which we know isn’t always the only place they practice or might not even be the main place they practice. We believe these factors is what accounts for the discrepancy between CIHI and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba,” Rampersad said.

Nationwide, Canada’s physician ranks grew to 75,142 in 2012 from 72,529 the year before. The number of doctors per 100,000 population grew to 214 from 209.

In Ontario, the number of physicians increased to 27,300 from 26,163. The number of physicians per 100,000 population rose to 201 from 195 the year before.

In Saskatchewan, 1,928 physicians were working in 2012 compared to 1,965 the year before. Due to a rapidly increasing population, Saskatchewan’s physicians per 100,000 dropped from 181 to 180.

A spokesperson for Manitoba’s health minister said Thursday that Theresa Oswald was not available for comment on the report.

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