Northern Ontario patients don't have as much access to doctors as those in the south: report

The agency responsible for monitoring the quality of health services says Ontario is among the worst jurisdictions when it comes to getting an appointment with a doctor.

Getting access to a family doctor continues to be an issue in northern Ontario

Is the doctor really in? A Health Quality Ontario report says northerners often find the doctor is out. (Shutterstock)

A report from the provincial agency, Health Quality Ontario, is re-enforcing what many in northeastern Ontario already suspect — people in the region have less frequent access to family doctors and nurse practitioners.

For instance, it found about one in three patients in northeastern Ontario get same-day or next-day appointments with their primary care providers if they get sick.

A Health Quality Ontario report says northerners often find the doctor is out. France Gelinas is the health critic for Ontario and the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt. She shared some of her thoughts about the report. 7:03

That compares to almost one in two patients for other parts of Ontario.

The NDP MPP for Nickel Belt and the parliamentary health critic said the numbers don't surprise her.

"Still, to see it in black and white, how poorly the north is served compared to Toronto area is still ... hard to take," France Gelinas said.

Gelinas said the publicly funded report is an accurate picture of the health care system.

While Health Quality Ontario says 94 per cent of Ontarians over 15 have a family physician or nurse practitioner, it found unequal access based on location.

For instance, only one in five northeasterners were able to see their family doctor within a week of serious lung or heart surgery. That compares to more than one in three for those in the central part of the province.

Gelinas said she hopes the report will shake the system up.

"People will demand change, and you don't do all this work to measure to then be happy with the status quo."

Read the report


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.