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Quick fixes won’t solve doctor shortage: NOACC

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The government has to stop using “cookie cutter solutions” to solve Ontario’s health care problems, according to a resolution endorsed by the Northern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce at its annual meeting last week in Atikokan.

Deb Ward, who represented the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce at the meeting, said the doctor shortage no longer is a Northwestern Ontario concern but has spread across the whole province.

And she said NOACC believes the Harris government already holds part of the answer to the problem in their hands--they’re just not using it.

“What we’re asking for is to utilize existing studies with creative solutions,” Ward said, such as the PAIRO study done in 1998 or the Ontario College of Family Physicians one released back in June.

“They have actual solutions, actual things we would like done,” she stressed. “We would like [the governments] to consider them.”

The NOACC resolution calls for more funding flexibility, and that flexibility also has to come with a new source of resources--new sources of funding which should come from the federal system, not the province.

“Don’t dictate down to us,” Ward said. “We’re the ones who live here and we’re the ones who know what we want--we want flexibility.”

NOACC wants to see the use of nurse practitioners enhanced in the province, with the appropriate funding to boot. It’s also calling for the reinstatement of the tuition loan program, where young doctors could have their university fees paid for provided they set up in a certain area for so many years, with stiffer penalties should a doctor renege on the deal.

The province and federal governments also must work to bring peace back to the medical industry and help resolve problems between doctors and allied health workers, allowing for a more positive working environment.

“We have to look at it in the whole huge picture,” Ward said. “This [crisis] is affecting everywhere.”

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