Doctors across the province put a focus on some of the most significant needs facing the health sector before the provincial elections.
With voters set to go to the polls in a month, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) says there are some key priorities that must be addressed by whichever party forms the government next month.
“We’ve experienced incredible pressure around wait times,” says Dr. Rose Zacharias, OMA president-elect. “We know that wait times are the number one concern of people across the province post-pandemic.”
Zacharias says the health care sector continues to be plagued by delayed procedures, with about 21 million delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But she says morale is at extremely low levels, with burnout a real problem many doctors face.
Physician burnout is an issue that is top of mind for management at Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital.
“We have people working double shifts. It means we have people canceling vacations to help our team members. It means every shift is potentially being worked short,” says Dr. Nancy Merrow, the chief of staff and vice president of Dr. . medical affairs.
With about 1,000 surgeries backlogged, Merrow says the hospital is working to improve staff morale as best as possible, arguing that the problem cannot be solved with burned-out staff.
“The well-being and safety and health of all those doctors and nurses and the health and allied staff is just as important as the health and well-being of the patients they care for,” says Merrow.
“This is the paradigm we need to transform this health system in the long term.”
The OMA is calling on the federal government to increase its investment in health care systems across the country, arguing that more funding is needed to hire and train new doctors.
“In past years, it was a share of 22 percent, and we call on Canada to increase that to 35 percent, and with this, it would inject billions of dollars into the health system to follow our prescription for l “Ontario,” Zaccaria concludes.