June 14, 2024

Care Nex

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Manitoba looking into physician recruitment deal that resulted in no new doctors

2 min read

Under the previous government, Manitoba entered a two-year deal with recruitment firm Canadian Health Labs, which promised to bring 150 more physicians to the province.

But eight months into the deal, the province has exactly zero new doctors.

Manitoba’s health minister confirmed they are examining why the staffing agency has failed to live up to their part of the deal.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Uzoma Asagwara.

“I am doing my due diligence as the minister to evaluate that contract thoroughly to determine best next steps forward.”

Last August, the former Progressive Conservative government inked the deal with the Toronto-based recruitment company, following a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information that found Manitoba had the second-lowest number of doctors per capita in the country.

“I would say all options, in terms of what we need to do to ensure that Manitobans have the doctors they need being recruited to Manitoba are on the table.”

On a job posting on Canadian Health Labs’s website, the firm tells interested physicians Manitoba provides the “perfect balance between a rewarding medical career and an exceptional quality of life.”

The firm’s lack of progress to this point is a significant setback for the NDP government, having committed to hiring 400 more physicians within five years during last fall’s election. 

“We are taking a dynamic approach to this challenge, there is no silver bullet to make sure that we have the doctors that we need,” said Asagwara.

In a statement to CityNews, the president of Doctors Manitoba describes Manitoba’s physician shortage as critical.

“Based on estimates from several sources, there are 150,000-200,000 Manitobans without a family doctor. Many more can’t get in to see their family doctor as quickly as they need because family physicians are stretched due to the shortage and excessive administrative burdens.”

CityNews reached out to Canadian Health Labs (CHL) for an interview to discuss their progress. In a response on Thursday CHL said they are committed to supporting Canada’s public sector and tackling the current healthcare crisis.

“Shared Health awarded CHL a contract to recruit family physicians following a competitive RFP process in recognition of CHL’s proven track record of helping Canadians access quality healthcare by solving staffing shortages,” said CHL in a statement.

“Since the contract was awarded, a significant amount of work has been done by CHL to recruit family physicians, the vast majority of which are international candidates.  CHL continues to work closely with Shared Health to recruit family physicians to fill vacancies across Manitoba, including in rural, remote, and underserviced communities affected by the current healthcare crisis.”

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