New OMA President Sets Recruitment and Retention as Priorities for Year

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ – Dr. Ken Arnold, the new president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), says Ontario’s health care system must be able to compete with other Canadian jurisdictions as well as the United States. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2020, the doctor shortage in the United States is expected to grow to 250,000, increasing competition for doctors in North America and highlighting the need to remain focused on recruitment and retention.

“Every Ontarian deserves to have timely access to the medical expertise of a physician,” said Dr. Arnold. “By making sure our doctors have the resources they need to provide quality care, we can ensure Ontario is an attractive place to practice medicine and continue to build and retain our physician workforce.”

Ontario is currently short 2,000 physicians, leaving almost one million Ontarians without a doctor. If Ontario physicians opted for retirement at 65, we would lose about 10 percent, or 1,000 family doctors and about 13 percent or 1,500 specialists.

Dr. Arnold, the OMA’s 127th president and the second consecutive leader from Northern Ontario, began his presidency this weekend. In his first address as president at OMA’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday, Dr. Arnold outlined several priorities that he will focus on during his term as president, including:

    1.  Getting every Ontarian timely access to a physician.

    2.  Developing solutions to raise a generation of healthier kids.

    3.  Raising awareness of the challenges facing aboriginal and remote

“In partnership with the Ontario government, we have made some progress towards increasing access to care for Ontarians, including getting hundreds of thousands of patients a doctor who didn’t have one previously,” said Dr. Arnold. “To continue to make improvements, we need to remain vigilant in our recruitment and retention efforts.”

Dr. Arnold also spoke about the need to continue to focus on health promotion. The OMA has been a champion of a ban on smoking in cars carrying children since its 2004 report Exposure to second-hand smoke: are we protecting our kids? The introduction of the Smoke Free Ontario Amendment Act, 2008 on April 30th is an important step towards protecting children from exposure to second-hand smoke in vehicles.

“Doctors are very encouraged to see the level of support from the public and the government on this very important initiative,” said Dr. Arnold. “I look forward to working on future endeavours to ensure our children have the
solid foundations they need to lead healthy lives.”

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