The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Halifax doctor moving to Toronto, leaving thousands without physician

  • Print

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia health officials are trying to figure out how to accommodate thousands of patients who will be without a family physician when their doctor closes a clinic in Halifax at a time when the province is struggling to recruit and retain doctors.

Dr. Michael Power issued a letter to patients at the Lacewood Medical Centre late last year announcing his intention to shutter the practice at the end of March and relocate to Toronto after failing to attract new doctors as he sank further into debt.

The centre said it has been carrying up to 20,000 patients since opening in 2003 with seven doctors, but was left with three physicians after some left the province.

This latest closure puts added pressure on a system already stressed as physicians leave areas of the province to seek out higher pay and better workloads in other parts of the country, say experts.

"When we get these situations like Dr. Power's clinic, which is obviously very critical and something we need to address, it's challenging because the system is so complex," said Kevin Chapman of Doctors Nova Scotia.

"I don't know if there's capacity in the system for an additional 20,000 patients with the physicians we have."

Health Minister Leo Glavine, who met with Power, says over the short-term Lacewood patients can use walk-in clinics, the emergency room or be picked up temporarily by doctors if they can't find a family physician.

He says that even though it's rare to see that many patients suddenly without a family doctor, he's confident they will get care with help from the district health authority.

"I am concerned about this, but I do have very strong assurances from Capital Health that they will be able to look after placing those patients," he said.

Dr. Rick Gibson, chief of the district's department of family practice, says there are plenty of family doctors in Halifax who are taking new patients and the area has more family physicians than the national average per capita.

He also downplayed the idea that doctors are pulling up stakes and relocating to Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

"There's no great migration of people to Alberta or elsewhere and we get a steady flow of new ones every year," he said. "Each province has its own fee schedule. ... But I don't see there's a huge difference when you take into account different variables."

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says doctors were paid an average of about $328,000 before taxes and expenses in 2011-2012. The average gross clinical payment per physician ranged from $258,000 in Nova Scotia to $376,000 in Ontario.

Figures for Prince Edward Island aren't included at that province's request due to what the institute says is a skewing effect on physician counts and their payments caused by visiting doctors.

Power said pay was central to his decision to leave, adding that he will make far more in his new Ontario practice. He says two other doctors in his centre are considering moving west.

"The clinic has operated at a loss and I can't do that anymore," he said.

Glavine says the problems will be addressed by a new team that will make recommendations on recruitment and retention, which will likely take pay, collaborative care and debt relief into account.

Nova Scotia has about 1,200 family physicians but will need up to 600 more over next 10 years, Chapman says, adding that 55 doctors have moved out of the province over the last five years.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Red River flooding north of Selkik at McIvor Lane

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local- (Standup Photo). Watcher in the woods. A young deer peers from the forest while eating leaves by Cricket Drive in Assiniboine Park. A group of eight deer were seen in the park. 060508.

View More Gallery Photos


Have you fallen victim to misleading cable, Internet or cellphone promotions?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google