Family doctors across the country say they need higher paycheques and better recruitment efforts to improve patient care and cut wait times.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) released the results of a Decima research poll Thursday that suggests 86 per cent of Canadians have family doctors.
But14 per cent, or approximately five million Canadians,are still without a family doctor, according to the poll, released at the annual Family Medicine Forum in Winnipeg.
Of this number, more than two million (41 per cent) have tried to find a family doctor and were not successful.
Physicians want the federal and provincial governments to cut that number to five per cent by 2012.
"A target of 95 per centby 2012 will move us closer to more timely access to primary care for patients as well as more highly specialized services to which patients may be referred,"said Dr. Calvin Gutkin, CFPC executive director and CEO, in a release.
"Ensuring timely access must reflect the patient’s full wait-time experience. It begins with every Canadian having a family doctor."
The college said governments can attract more family doctors by boosting their fees and salaries, and increasing support for residents that specialize in family medicine.
Gutkin said family physicians are usually paid 25 to 33 per cent less than specialists.
College officials are callingfor more family doctors to lighten the load at emergency rooms, thereby saving hospitals money.
The Decima poll was conducted between Aug. 22 and Sept. 4, 2007. It involved a national telephone survey of 2,014 Canadians over age18.