By Matthew McCully
Local Journalism Initiative
Who knew the aging population in Quebec included so many doctors?
A retirement boom is compounding the already significant labour shortage in the healthcare system, leaving more and more Quebecers without a family doctor by the day.
Even with 442 new doctor permits opening up for the coming year in Quebec, 25 of which will be allotted to the Estrie, the province is far from catching up to the doctor shortage.
According to information provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, as of July 31, 2021, there were 830,686 Quebecers on the waiting list for a family doctor, doubling in the last four years. However, the percentage of the population signed up with a family physician has actually increased from 79.6 in 2018 to 81.2 per cent in 2020.
The jump in numbers coincides with the Coalition Avenir Québec’s (CAQ) commitment in 2018 to provide all Quebecers with a family doctor, essentially opening the flood gates on a new online registration system.
The CAQ has since tempered that promise to now try and reach 83 per cent family doctor coverage for the population.
In July, 2021 an average of 80.2 per cent of Quebecers were signed up with a family doctor. That ranges from rates in the 90s in areas like the Gaspé (91.86) or Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (92.2) down to rates in the 60s in urban centres (64.2 per cent in Montreal West).
The time on the waiting list can fluctuate depending on a person’s condition.