A new report shows Manitoba has third overall lowest number of physicians in Canada

Doctor or psychiatrist consulting and diagnostic examining stressful woman patient. Chinnapong/Getty Images

A new report from Doctors Manitoba says the province is facing a physician shortage that’ll only get worse if something doesn’t change soon.

Despite the province seeing a nearly 50-per cent increase in practicing physicians over the last 20 years, the per capita rates paint a different picture.

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The report shows Manitoba has the third overall lowest number of physicians per capita in the country clocking in at 216 doctors per 100,000 residents.

“Manitoba has seen a significant increase in the number of practicing physicians over the past 20 years but our increase has not kept up with other provinces, leaving us with one of the biggest physician shortages in Canada,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, president of Doctors Manitoba.

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“For patients, the physician shortage is leading to unreasonably long wait times, unnecessary delays for surgery and testing, and it’s making it difficult to find and see a family physician.”

The report also states Manitoba is ranking dead last in terms of physician growth per capita with a 19-per cent increase from 2001 to 2020.

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This number scores 10 per cent below the national average, which is still far lower than other nations.

Of the physicians currently practicing in Manitoba, two-thirds are experiencing emotional distress and half are reporting high levels of burnout.

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The report also notes over 40 per cent of Manitoba physicians plan to retire, cut back clinic hours or leave the province in the next three years.

“Physician burnout is the biggest threat to physician retention,” said Dr. Shelley Anderson, Medical Lead for Physician Health with Doctors Manitoba.

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“The root causes of burnout are largely system issues, not due to a lack of resilience on the part of individual physicians. These issues include a growing administrative burden, a lack of engagement with physicians, and an erosion of control for the patient care for which physicians are ultimately responsible.

“By working together with physicians to tackle these issues, we can reduce burnout and improve physician retention.”

Global has reached out to Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon for comment.

In an email, a government spokesperson said: “Our government has been meeting with frontline staff on a regular basis. Some of the best ideas come right from the shop floor, from the grassroots. Reports like the one released today by Doctors Manitoba are also fundamentally important in helping define the situation, and ultimately help with the solution. Our government is working with a health human resource taskforce, as well as a Shared Health recruitment group, and we will be rolling out a comprehensive action plan in the next few weeks to address recruitment, training and retention.”

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Doctors Manitoba looks for shortage solutions

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