• Nick Zacharias

Conference to address concerns for doctors in the region


Doctor Sylvain Dufresne, left, and Dr. Louis Godin of the FMOQ were at a conference in Valleyfield last week to discuss ways to ensure that patients in the region continue to have access to family practitioners in spite of an overall shortage of doctors.

A conference was held in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield last week by the Fédération des Médecins Omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) to discuss ways to address the fragile balance that currently exists in the coverage of patients by family doctors in the region.

Some good progress has been made in the past few years in the vein of ensuring patients have access to family doctors. While only 67 per cent of Quebecers were listed as in the care of a family doctor in 2014, that number has jumped to 81 per cent today. According to the FMOQ that means an increase of 1,150,000 people that now have a family practitioner which has been achieved in spite of an overall shortage of doctors.

It hasn’t been easy. According to Dr. Louis Godin, president of the FMOQ, “If the political powers had not, between 2014 and 2018, at once discouraged new doctors from entering family medicine (more than 200 posts for medical residents were left vacant during those four years) and pushed numerous experienced doctors into retirement, the provincial goal of having 85 per cent of the population under the charge of a family doctor would probably already have been reached.”

There are pressures on the medical community from retirement, from challenges in recognizing the qualifications of doctors who were trained outside of Canada, and from challenges in attracting new doctors under current working conditions.

Says Godin, “It is becoming a big problem in the last few years. There’s a lot of pressure, and with family doctors spending 40 per cent of their time performing duties in hospitals, the hours and working conditions are becoming difficult. Doctors are leaving, which means there are less of them to go around. It also means there is a higher risk of errors with doctors that are overworked.”

With a new hospital on the horizon for the region, they are acutely aware of the added requirements for doctors to come in the next seven or eight years.

“That is what we are here to discuss,” said Dr. Godin, “we are here to find ways to make sure that we can continue to have enough family doctors for the health of the region.”