Canadian Medical Association Launches Major Campaign for More Doctors
Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Brian Day announced today in a speech on the costs of wait times, that his organization, representing 67,500 doctors nationwide, was launching a major campaign to put the growing physician shortage on the federal political agenda.
“The shortage of health care professionals affects wait times and hurts patients,” said Day. “There are simply not enough of us to keep providing the quality health care that Canadians expect and deserve. Politicians must act soon because the situation will just get worse.”
he facts and figures on current state of the physician shortage paint a grim picture:
– Almost 5-million Canadians do not have a family physician and 5-million more could be in the same situation by 2018;
– Canada would need 26,000 more doctors to meet the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of physicians per population;
– The average doctor today is working more hours than she or he did 20 years ago; and
– The average age of a physician in Canada is close to 50.
“These numbers won’t come as a surprise to the thousands of Canadians on waiting lists,” said Day. “But they should be setting off alarm bells on Parliament Hill.” In launching the campaign today during a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto, Dr. Day also unveiled new research on the cost of waiting for care in Canada. The dramatic data show that the costs associated with patients waiting for care in four of the five “priority” areas identified by governments in the 2004 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care topped $14.8 billion in 2007. The report also reveals that excess waits for care reduced economic activity and lowered the revenues of federal and provincial governments by a combined $4.4 billion in 2007. “The deterioration that patients experience while they wait is a curse,” stated Dr. Day. “Not only on the patients who must wait in pain but also for the economy of the entire country.” The full report – The economic cost of wait times in Canada – is available at: http://www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/45087/la_id/1.htm. The CMA’s “More Doctors. More Care.” Campaign will include national advertising, advocacy, online ads, a postcard-writing blitz and events aimed directly at Parliament Hill. Canadians, physicians and patients will be encouraged to contact their MPs by visiting moredoctors.ca. “Federal politicians seem to think that health care is no longer an important issue for Canadian voters,” concluded Day. “They need to think again. In the last election, politicians promised to put an end to wait times. That promise will never be kept if the shortage of physicians isn’t dealt with because more doctors mean more care.”