Manitoba to make good on past pledge to cover doctor licensing fees as part of retention efforts

The province is earmarking $13 million to reimburse licensing fee costs of physicians over the next two years. (Minerva Studio/Shutterstock - image credit)
The province is earmarking $13 million to reimburse licensing fee costs of physicians over the next two years. (Minerva Studio/Shutterstock - image credit)

The provincial government is making good on a pledge made last fall and plans to cover licensing fee costs over the next two years for physicians practising in Manitoba.

The Progressive Conservative government will pick up the licensing tab for doctors between now and 2025, according to a news release on Thursday.

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon committed to spending $13 million reimbursing physicians as part of a $200-million "Health Human Resource Action Plan" aimed at health-care workforce recruitment and retention, which was announced in November.

At the time, the province laid out a number of pledges including covering licensing fee costs for all health professionals for two years.

Several of the health-care announcements from the province since then have come in response to recommendations from the physician-advocacy group Doctors Manitoba.

Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Candace Bradshaw said the group appreciates the provincial government following through on one of the initiatives identified in the action plan.

Retention concerns 

"The supports announced today are part of a bigger group of actions we hope will help retain more doctors in Manitoba, which couldn't be more important when our most recent data suggests 51 per cent of physicians are considering retiring, leaving Manitoba or reducing their clinical hours," Bradshaw said in a statement to CBC News.

That represents a rise from Doctors Manitoba survey data in early 2022, which found about 40 per cent were considering leaving Manitoba, retiring or reducing clinic hours.

The latest figure comes from another survey in February and March of this year. It suggests about 14 per cent of doctors are considering leaving Manitoba, 12 per cent are mulling retirement and 26 per cent are thinking about reducing clinic hours — or about half of the 1,120 doctors who responded.

In February, the province upped the number of physician training seats in Manitoba by 80, and offered a 20 per cent premium on extended billing hours for family and pediatric doctors who keep their clinics open later or on weekends.

Shared Health, which co-ordinates health-care service delivery in the province, announced last month it was looking for firms to help it recruit 150 doctors to Manitoba.

Bradshaw said Doctors Manitoba is now looking to the province to fulfil the final piece of its health action plan, "a practice stabilization support payment."

"[It] has tremendous potential to retain the doctors we have and recruit more to Manitoba," Bradshaw said in a statement.

"Other provinces have made similar moves, and we want to ensure Manitoba isn't an outlier in the middle of an international physician shortage."

Following up on past calls from Doctors Manitoba, the province has also committed $350,000 for the creation of a hub for health-care workers to connect with each other for diagnostic and treatment guidance on complex cases.

The province described that hub, named Cortext, as a secure messaging platform for physicians and other health-care team members to collaborate, improve care and "support better transitions for patients between health-care providers."

Cortext is expected to be rolled out this month, according to the province.

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