The province says its program to connect people with family doctors is working — despite the fact that 4,000 people in Sudbury are on a waiting list for a physician.

Health Care Connect is a provincial program that is intended to help people find a health care provider. But Nickel Belt MPP and NDP health critic France Gelinas said the program isn't working.

"Except for sending out nice letters each month, they have not been helpful," she quipped.

The Ministry of Health reports about 7,300 people in Sudbury registered with the program last year, and about 3,200 received doctors. But the other 4,100 continue to wait — and the province says those people should keep searching on their own for a family doctor.

But Gelinas said there's no point in people searching for a doctor their own, as doctors get paid through Health Care Connect to take new patients

"They won't take you directly," she said. "They will make you go through Health Care Connect. And in that voyage through Health Care Connect, it often derails."

No one from the Ministry of Health was available for an interview, but in an e-mail to the CBC, spokesperson David Jensen said the program doesn't guarantee people will be matched with doctors.

The program costs $5.4 million each year to run — money Gelinas said could go toward more family health teams and nurse practitioner clinics.

The ministry said 66 per cent of people on Health Care Connect in northeastern Ontario have been referred to a family doctor since 2009.