Ontario's political party leaders pledge to fix health care shortage in the north

·2 min read

Ontario's main political parties are promising to hire more doctors and nurses and increase the number of spaces at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to address the immediate need for health-care workers in the region.

There has long been a lack of health- care workers in northern Ontario, with many calling for significantly increased investment in the sector to address regional shortfalls.

The Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Hospital had to close its emergency room for 24 hours at one point in March due to a shortage in local physicians able to work in the department.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says his party would increase the number of spaces available at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM University) and hire 100,000 new health care workers in the province, including doctors and nurses, over six years.

The NDP propose to immediately hire and recruit 300 doctors in northern Ontario, including 100 specialists and 40 mental health practitioners, and train more doctors and health professionals to work in the north by expanding the number of seats and training opportunities at NOSM University.

The Progressive Conservatives, who are seeking re-election, introduced a plan before the campaign to invest $142 million to support nurses’ tuition reimbursements in exchange for service in underserved communities across Ontario and train more doctors through the expansion of medical education spaces, with 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions proposed over the next five years.

The Green Party of Ontario says it would double the Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative and the Northern Physicians Retention Initiative to recruit 230 doctors and specialists in northern communities and expand the roles and scope of nurse practitioners as primary health care providers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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