Primary care providers at the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic in Thunder Bay are lobbying the government for a pay raise.

Nurse practitioners at these types of clinics are paid significantly less than those working in other settings, such as hospitals, said clinical director Pam Delgaty. And the disparity is creating a recruitment challenge all across the province.

"We are very fortunate with our staff at our clinic, and we have very dedicated staff because they could all go somewhere else and get paid quite a bit more," Delgaty said.

Nurse practitioner-led clinics provide cost-effective healthcare, she said, adding she is disappointed the government did not address the concern over pay for nurse practitioners in its latest budget.

Pam Delgaty

Pam Delgaty is the clinical director for the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic in Thunder Bay. She told CBC that the lower rates of pay for nurse practitioners in clinics such as hers make it hard to recruit staff. (Supplied/Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic)

"My main concern is that because of the disparity in pay between nurse practitioners working in this setting as opposed to other ones that there's a risk these clinics may not be able to continue," Delgaty said.

"In Thunder Bay, we're pretty lucky our staff is very stable. But in other nurse practitioner-led clinics and primary health care models such as community health centres there is an issue, and there's a vacancy rate of 20 to 25 per cent, because people can get paid more in different settings."

The Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic opened in 2010 and is one of two nurse practitioner-led clinics in Thunder Bay. It has four nurse practitioners, who liaise with an off-site doctor, serving 3,200 patients.