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99,000 Without Family Doctor; Opposition Calls it a Crisis in Need of an Action Plan
Health critic David Brazil said, "It’s a crisis that’s left people at risk of not being properly monitored or treated soon enough when they need care."
Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Office of the Official Opposition 

For Immediate Release


St. John’s, NL (September 18, 2019) – The Official Opposition is demanding that Health minister John Haggie take a different approach in light of news from the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) that 99,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are without a family doctor – nearly double the number five years ago.

The entire PC Caucus met with the NLMA on Tuesday to hear them present their findings and discuss an action plan.

Health critic David Brazil said, “This lack of access to family doctors is hurting people in every region of our province, but nowhere more than in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the NLMA’s data, 12% of people on the Avalon, almost a quarter of people (21%) in the central and eastern regions and almost a third of people (31%) in the western and Labrador regions are without access to a family doctor. It’s a crisis that’s left people at risk of not being properly monitored or treated soon enough when they need care.”

“With the number of patients without a doctor nearly double what it was five years ago, it’s high time for the Ball government to stop pretending this isn’t a crisis and start listening to the solutions our health care professionals are bringing forward,” said Brazil.

Helen Conway Ottenheimer said, “The latest crisis point is in Holyrood, in my district of Harbour Main, where the recent loss of a family doctor has left thousands without care.  People have no idea where to go, and the government isn’t helping them.”

Tony Wakeham said, “In my district of Stephenville-Port au Port and across the West Coast and throughout Labrador, the lack of family doctors has left people stressed and deeply concerned that they aren’t getting the care they need. It’s time for real solutions and these solutions must come from listening to health care professionals like doctors, nurse practitioners and others. Everyone but the government is aware that an action plan is urgently needed.”

According to NLMA’s data, about 30 or more MUN medical graduates enter family medicine, but only 8 or 9 of those went on to practise family medicine in the province. NLMA believe boosting the retention rate for family practice physicians must be the first priority to be addressed by this Government.

Wakeham said one of the solutions is proper human resource planning to ensure we are graduating physicians who are prepared to practise in the regions and disciplines of highest need, while other solutions involve modernized billing practices, utilizing other health professionals like nurse practitioners and interdisciplinary health care teams. These solutions and others are outlined in the 2019 PC Blue Book.


Contacts: Denise Tubrett, Deputy Chief of Staff

(p) 1.709.725.2594DeniseTubrett@gov.nl.ca

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