Controversy over a family doctor shortage in southwestern Nova Scotia is making its way to the floor of the provincial legislature.

A petition signed by more than 2,000 people in Yarmouth County who say they need a family doctor will be tabled Wednesday.

Bernie Melanson, who spearheaded the petition, said six family doctors out of a total of 20 have left the region in the past year, so he started collecting names to show the government how "desperate" the situation has become.

Melanson said when he meets a new doctor for the first time, he asks when they'll be leaving.

"'Hi, my name's Bernie. When are you leaving?' That's been my standard greeting because I'm just so used to them not staying," he said Tuesday.

"I mean, 14 doctors in 29 years? That's an awful lot of doctors to go through…. I hope it [the petition] makes them understand just how desperate we are for doctors."

Melanson is now onto his 15th doctor, but she's located in Wolfville — a 2½-hour drive away.

Yarmouth Liberal MLA Zach Churchill said he will table the petition and also propose a solution to the problem.

"We need to recruit and retain our own. We've been pushing for government to fund tuition for 20 local students a year for five years who are willing to stay in the province and service in-need areas," he said.  

Churchill said the Liberal plan would cost taxpayers $6 million over five years — a small price if it means doctors will stay in small-town Nova Scotia.

A Health Department spokesman said three new doctors have signed on to start taking patients in the new year.