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Premier outlines strategy to add 100 new doctors to Manitoba’s health-care system

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The province has set a goal of hiring 100 new doctors this year as part of a broader plan to bolster Manitoba’s health-care system.

Premier Wab Kinew and Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara made the announcement at a news conference Thursday at the Grace Hospital.

“This is an ambitious target. This would be the most net new physicians in a year that our province has ever seen,” Kinew said.

To achieve this, the province is investing $309.5 million towards staff recruitment, retention and training initiatives, which includes increased funding for physician recruitment and medical residency spots by 38 per cent.

It will also fund the establishment of a new health-care retention and recruitment office.

“By simplifying immigration and licensure processes, along with offering financial supports and doctor-to-doctor referral programs, we will grow our pool of experienced and very diverse doctors who provide the care that Manitobans depend on where and when they need it,” Asagwara said.

Doctors Manitoba board chair Dr. Candace Bradshaw noted Manitoba has one of the fewest number of physicians per capita in the country, noting the province would have to add 445 more physicians to reach the national average.

She says Manitoba recorded a net gain of 60 doctors annually over the last five years.

The biggest jump ever recorded was over a decade ago, when the province added 83 doctors.

“This commitment is very significant, it’s very ambitious and it’s long overdue.”

Bradshaw says the goal is achievable by upping recruitment and retention by 10 per cent from baselines set over the past few years.

Kinew hopes the strategy sends a message to those already working on the front lines to stay.

“Help is coming. We’re bringing the resources to support you. We’re bringing new approaches, and a renewed focus on the culture and the working conditions on the front lines, and the first step towards us improving always has to be retention,” he said, noting part of that strategy involves improving work-life balance, job satisfaction and working conditions.

The announcement is part of a promise made in the 2024 budget, which pledged to hire 1,000 new health-care workers this year.

Announcement lacks tangible, fleshed out plan: Tories

Progressive Conservative Health Critic Kathleen Cook says Thursday’s announcement had no details on actual measures that will attract physicians to Manitoba.

In a statement, Cook said other provinces have tangible, fleshed out plans with incentives and programs to attract and retain physicians.

“The NDP are raising taxes and the cost of housing in Manitoba, including a tax hike that directly targets doctors. Thanks to changes made by this NDP budget, Manitoba is now one of the least attractive provinces for physicians in Canada,” Cook said.

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