The number of Ontarians without a family doctor rose significantly during the first two years of the pandemic, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of how access to primary care is deteriorating in Canada’s most populous province.
More than 2.2 million Ontarians were without a regular physician as of March, 2022, up from nearly 1.8 million in March of 2020 – a 24-per-cent increase. That means 14.7 per cent of
Ontarians now rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for primary care or go without it altogether, up from just over 12 per cent before COVID struck.
Children, newcomers to Ontario, and patients who live in the poorest and most racialized neighbourhoods were most likely to see their access worsen, but people from all walks of life lost their family doctors during the two-year period, the data show.
“This shortage is not perfectly equal-opportunity,” said Michael Green, chair of the department of family medicine at Queen’s University, “but it’s certainly widespread enough that it doesn’t spare any particular group.”