430,000 people could be without a doctor in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon in 2026


Published November 2, 2023 at 8:30 am

Ontario wait time crisis
Photo: Antoni Shkraba

New data shows that more than 223,000 people in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon do not have a family doctor and that this number could reach 430,000 in 2026.

The new numbers from the Ontario College of Family Physicians were released today (Nov. 2) along with a call to action.

The Ontario College of Family Physicians is calling on the Ontario government to take urgent action to support family doctors and improve patients’ access to care, the College said in a press release.

Approximately one in four Ontarians – that’s 4.4 million – will be without a family doctor by 2026, the College states.

“It is clear that millions more Ontarians will go without a family doctor unless immediate changes are made to provide supports for family doctors,” said Dr. Mekalai Kumanan, president, Ontario College of Family Physicians.

The College points to a few factors contributing to the shortage including the number of family doctors expected to retire, the number of family medicine graduates entering the profession, and expected population growth in Ontario.

Another pressing challenge is retaining the family doctors currently practicing in Ontario.

Across Ontario, nearly 2.3 million are without a family doctor – that’s up from 1.8 million in March 2020.

New research led by INSPIRE-Primary Health Care (PHC) further shows that 1.74 million Ontarians have a family doctor over age 65, nearing retirement.

Adding to the crisis, a recent survey of family doctors by the Ontario College of Family Physicians shows nearly 65 per cent are planning to change or leave their practice.

The College also said family doctors are spending too much time on unnecessary administrative tasks and do not have the support they need from inter-professional teams to manage an aging, increasingly complex population.

The College calls on the Ontario government to implement the following solutions:

  • Ensure all Ontarians have access to family doctors working in teams — nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers. Ontarians who have family doctors working in teams have far greater access to the care they need because their physicians are supported by and more. Right now, 70 per cent of family doctors and their patients do not have access to team-based support.
  • Ensure family doctors can spend time caring for patients instead of unnecessary paperwork. On average, family doctors spend 19 hours a week on administrative tasks such as writing sick notes and filling out lengthy insurance forms. Simple measures such as eliminating sick note requirements and standardizing insurance forms, would mean more time treating patients.

When patients don’t have a family doctor, it means that cancers may go undetected, people miss important check-ups, and more patients turn to already overburdened emergency departments because they do not have anywhere else to go.

This crisis disproportionately impacts the province’s most vulnerable, including children and seniors, low-income residents, and newcomers, the College states.

“Every Ontarian deserves a family doctor.  We can work towards this by making changes to support family doctors so that they can focus on caring for their patients,” said Dr. Kumanan.

“It’s not too late for the Ontario Government to change course and take immediate steps to provide support to family doctors to ensure patients can get the best care possible.”

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