Primary Health Care


Primary health care is a critically important component of any health system, and one in which Canada has lagged behind on key indicators despite significant investments through the Primary Care Transition Fund (2000-2006). Ensuring greater access to primary health care teams figured prominently in the most recent Federal Minister of Health’s mandate letter and is the focus of significant CIHR funding initiatives. Having an adequate supply and health system supports for primary health care professionals and teams are essential features of responsive health systems. This sector group will focus on these and other primary health care workforce issues.

Theme Lead:

Maria Mathews

Maria Mathews is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.  Her graduate training is in health services administration.

Maria’s research interests include the physician workforce, primary health care, and care in rural communities.  Recent studies have examined the training and retention of international medical graduates in Canada and the work and training of family practice nurses.  Her current projects assess programs designed to increase the number of Indigenous physicians in Canada and health impacts of physician turnover in rural communities.   

LindsayLindsay Hedden is an Assistant Professor of Learning Health Systems in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and is the Assistant Scientific Director of BC’s Academic Health Science Network. Her work sits at the intersection of primary care and workforce planning. She has explored, using physician billings, why the availability of community-based primary care has declined, despite substantial increases in the number of primary care physicians per capita. Current projects focus on 1) Examining the effects of the increasing corporatization and privatization of primary care on equity, accessibility, and quality of care; and 2) Exploring the increasing role of virtual care in the primary care context, including implications for costs, service volumes (based on the degree to which virtual care duplicates or is a substitute for in-office visits), accessibility and continuity of care.


Health Workforce Research in Progress:

Pandemic Planning for Primary Care: Lessons from Four Provinces

Moving beyond headcounts: improved physician workforce planning for primary care in BC

Dissemination of a National Set of Family Practice Nursing Competencies to Support the Integration of Family Practice Nurses within Primary Care

Integrating Registered Nurses into Primary Care Across Canada

Practice patterns among early-career primary care physicians and workforce planning implications: a mixed methods study