The number of practising physicians in Manitoba has increased.
A report by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba for the fiscal year ending April 30, showed the province had 2,982 licensed medical practitioners, including 67 fully licensed residents. That represented a net gain of 158 in the past two fiscal years.
The influx of doctors represents a significant leap from as recently as 2015-16, when there was a net increase of only 20 doctors.
In the past fiscal year alone, the province added 80 physicians, the report showed.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the increased number indicates the province has successfully retained doctors who have been trained here, and recruited others who were trained elsewhere.
"Our new agreement with Doctors Manitoba shows our willingness to have physicians work alongside government and health system leadership on shared interests to improve the care patients receive, while the rural residency program is exposing new physicians to the benefits of working in rural and northern Manitoba. There will always be a need in our system for more physicians. We will continue to work to improve upon our successes," he said.
Part of that boost is a result of the University of Manitoba developing a rural residency program, which has created residency opportunities in a number of regional health authorities outside of Winnipeg.
"By offering distributed medical education and residency sites, we are better reflecting the communities we serve and this will improve health care across Manitoba, especially to our most underserved patients," Dr. Brian Postl, the dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine, said in the government release.
In the past fiscal year, of the newly licensed medical practitioners in the province, 33 are at work in communities outside Winnipeg. A total of 720, or about 24 per cent of all Manitoban licensed practitioners, work outside Winnipeg.
During the year ending April 30, 202 doctors left the province to practise elsewhere; seven went to the U.S., three went to the U.K. and 99 moved to other parts of Canada, including 40 who moved to Ontario and 39 who went to B.C. The destination of 93 physicians was unknown.
One doctor was suspended and 70 retired.
Half of all doctors practising in Manitoba were trained in the province, and 848, or 37.3 per cent, are women, the report said.
Meanwhile, countrywide, the growth rate of physicians in Canada has outpaced the growth of the population, and Manitoba is leading the charge, a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information has found.
Canada’s population grew by 4.6 per cent from 2014 to 2018. The number of Canadian doctors grew by 12.5 per cent. Manitoba’s physician growth rate was 17.8 per cent, the highest in the country during that time period. Conversely, Quebec’s growth rate of physicians was the lowest at 5.9 per cent.
The report found that the province employed 2,593 physicians in 2014, compared with 3,055 in 2018.
The report also found that in 2018, there were nearly 90,000 physicians across Canada, roughly equal to 241 per 100,000 Canadians — the highest per capita number ever in the country.
The institute’s research also found that Manitoba had the second-highest average gross clinical payment per surgical specialist in Canada from 2012 to 2018 at $505,000, trailing only Prince Edward Island ($549,000).
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.