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More than 2 million Ontarians now without a family doctor: report

Approximately 1,700 family doctors needed to make up shortfall

The number of Ontarians without a family doctor has surpassed two million, according to a new report — just more evidence for some in the medical field that primary care is in crisis.

"I am not at all surprised," said Dr. Michael Green, co-lead investigator for Inspire-PHC, the health-care research group which released the data late last month.

"What I get all the time in my emails [are stories from] people whose doctor has retired, people having trouble getting in," he continued. "Very few practices, if any, [are] taking new patients."

While 1.8 million Ontarians didn't have a family doctor in 2020, that number has since swelled to 2.2 million, according to the update.

Green, who is also the head of family medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said part of the reason his group re-ran that data is because of complaints from the front lines — both from colleagues and patients.

Ontario's population growth accounts in part for the fact the number of people without a family doctor has ballooned, he said, but doesn't tell the whole tale.

"People have lost their family doctor," he said. "So even with new providers coming in, certainly the number and percentage of people who are not attached has increased."

To make up for that shortfall, and without even considering physicians on the cusp of retirement, Green said Ontario would need approximately 1,700 new family doctors — which he calls "big numbers."



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