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CBC ( June 04) To solve a regional doctor shortage, tear down provincial licensing barriers

To solve a regional doctor shortage, tear down provincial licensing barriers, says Kenora doctor

'There's got to be a way,' says physician who sees nearby Manitoba as solution to local doctor shortage

A Kenora, Ont. doctor says he'd like to see politicians in the Ontario provincial election consider his proposed solution to the chronic doctor shortage in his area.

Dr. Clay Hammett says better integration of healthcare between Ontario and Manitoba could make things easier for both doctors and patients in his community, which is much closer to Winnipeg than to any major healthcare centre in Ontario. 

"There's got to a be a way that we can have an inter-provincial license for doctors to deliver care to patients in northwestern Ontario," he said.

Many patients from Kenora already travel to Manitoba to access treatment. But because they work in a different province, Manitoba doctors can't tap into the health services that might be available to those patients when they return home to northwestern Ontario, Hammett said. 

"They can't order even simple blood tests back in northwestern Ontario ... the patient has to go back to Winnipeg if they have to get blood tests or treatments," he said. 

Hammett said he'd also like to see jurisdictional walls lowered to allow Manitoba doctors to better serve patients in northwestern Ontario, and even travel to the region to practice, without having to get another license — a process that involves a fee, and paperwork that can take months to process, he added. 

Allowing doctors to practice across the provincial border makes sense, he said, considering that some Manitoba doctors likely already visit the Kenora area regularly. 

"Many of them have cottages and camps and places they come to in the summertime at least. And if they were already licensed to work in northwestern Ontario, they could easily come and do locum clinics if they're specialists, and help serve our patients more locally." 

Kenora is short of both specialists and family physicians. The community has "less than half the number of doctors" needed to serve the population, he said. 

Ultimately, Hammett said he'd like to see one national regulatory system for doctors in Canada, but for now, he'd settle for a regional solution. 

"And I would love it if one of the party's locally would stand up and say if you elect us, we promise to try and make this happen," he said. 

 

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