Open letter from the CFPC to our Members
We are writing today to reiterate our continued efforts to draw immediate attention and action toward accelerating solutions to what is clearly a crisis in family medicine and primary care in Canada.
Each day, the media are reporting more cases of family physicians closing their practices due to retirement. Each year, there are increasing obstacles toward embracing family medicine because of the difficulties in building and maintaining a sustainable, profitable practice. Our members are navigating unmanageable workloads and are burnt out and frustrated.
The factors underlying these trends are complex and largely systemic in nature. They have only been exacerbated by the strain placed on physicians and the health care system by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between closing practices and decreased enrolment in family practice residency the rate of attrition in family practice continues at an alarmingly high level. The future of family medicine is at risk—and, as such, so is the health and well-being of families and communities across Canada.
The current pressure is unsustainable.
We know that many of our members are dealing with unsustainable challenges: ever growing administrative demands with little support, rising overhead and labour costs, a lack of integration of health care IT infrastructure, inefficient communications and collaboration between primary and secondary/tertiary care, rising patient access issues, increasingly sick patients with complex issues who are not adequately supported by community resources and for which there has been inadequate training, insufficient locum support, burn-out, not feeling heard for the critical issues that face our profession, and fee structures that do not fairly remunerate for the scope and work that family medicine entails.
We know you are tired of shouldering the burden for a health care system that must be better at supporting family doctors and primary care.
The future of our profession is at risk.
We also know that new graduates are entering the profession with record high debt levels at a time where the cost of living in Canada has increased at its fastest pace in decades. For many, there is a heart-breaking conflict trying to reconcile a passion for comprehensive family practice with the harsh realities of an under-resourced system, and the current and future financial burdens.
We know you are caught between following your head and your heart.
The CFPC is acting on your behalf.
It is our current highest priority now and for the foreseeable future to promote the dialogue and fuel the actions that are needed toward addressing these critical issues.
We are making our voices heard. Together with our provincial Chapters and our partner organizations such as the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), and other members of the Canadian Medical Forum, we continue to advocate at provincial and federal levels on your behalf, calling for additional funding and system reform. For example, we have been advocating for dedicated administrative and interprofessional support for primary care practices to address the health human resource crisis. This work is aimed to direct the federal government’s pledge to invest $3.2 billion into this area and is the focus of our advocacy on your behalf. We continue to promote proposed solutions like the Patient’s Medical Home, Residency Training Reform, and advancing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Finally, and to amplify and share our progress with you, we will unveil formal and differentiated communications in September to address the crisis. These will be distinct from other College communications, and made with greater urgency, effort, and insistence that we have to date. Through these efforts, and as a member-based organization, we will invite you to contribute with your participation, your voices, and your votes.
Family medicine is the linchpin of comprehensive primary care.
There is no health care without family doctors.
Brady Bouchard, BSEE MBBS, CCFP, CISAM
Francine Lemire, MD CM, CCFP, FCFP, CAE, ICD.D
Executive Director and CEO