Dr. Clay Hammett of Kenora has been vocal about the realities of doctor shortages in northwestern Ontario. The family doctor has been leading the charge for more doctors in the region, and he is proposing a new solution for the issue.

Hammett says that he would like to see physicians from Winnipeg and Manitoba be allowed to practice in northwestern Ontario, without having to get re-certified in Ontario.

“It would make a lot of sense. The major impediment is the relationship between Winnipeg doctors who serve northwestern Ontario residents in Winnipeg, and the portability of their licence. Doctors in Manitoba have to go through a long process to apply and renew licences in Ontario. It’s also costly.”

At this point, the area is estimated to be short at least 8 to 10 doctors. Short-term locums are coming from southern Ontario, but not from Manitoba, likely due to the re-certification process.

“This would be an easy thing for any political party to address. This would be a substantial step forward to help us integrate our health-care with Manitoba’s.”

Hammett noted that Australia’s health-care system allows for national licences and regulation.

Earlier this month, a doctor who was closing her clinic said 10 more doctors were needed, in addition to about 35 physicians in the community. However, Dr. Lisa Habermehl noted between 60 and 70 would be needed, if you included the needs of neighbouring First Nations.

She added new doctors weren't as likely to work the 80 or 100 hours a week put in by some old-school physicians, such as Dr. Jim Beveridge, who recently retired.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath pledged more support for the area last Friday, when she visited with a heart patient in Kenora.

For more information:
‘All feet on the ground,’ medical recruiter

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