QUEEN’S PARK – A motion from NDP MPP Ian Arthur (Kingston and the Islands) has been defeated on its final vote, meaning more help to recruit and retain family doctors in Kingston and the Islands is not on the way from the Ford government. Arthur said the issue is still a priority for the NDP.
In 2015 the former Liberal government took Kingston off the list of communities that receive extra help recruiting and retaining doctors. Arthur's motion would have put it back on the list and given Kingston help to recruit and retain family doctors, but the Conservatives unanimously voted not to do that, after the Liberals didn’t bother to even attend the debate last week.
“Too many people in Kingston have gone without a family doctor for too long,” said Arthur. “The previous Liberal government had 15 years to help with this crisis in Kingston, and they let us down. Now the Ford Conservatives are digging in their heels, leaving people to cope without a regular doctor, and contributing long, painful waits for patients at Kingston’s overcrowded hospitals.
“This motion was a call to action to ensure that everyone in Kingston and the Islands has a doctor. Someone to refill prescriptions, monitor chronic conditions like asthma and high blood pressure, and keep people healthier.”
MPP Arthur’s motion would have obligated the province to recognize the dire shortage of family doctors in the region by designating the city an Area of High Physician Need by the Ministry of Health.
In 2015, the previous Liberal government incorrectly deemed the city to be “adequately serviced” and removed Kingston from the High Physician Need list. Yet recent estimates show almost one in four residents are without a family doctor or are forced to travel outside the region for primary care.
“We need to attract more family doctors to Kingston but we can’t do that if the province is telling them this city doesn’t need them, and won’t help them come here,” said Arthur. “This motion could have been a step towards easing the suffering and anxiety of so many residents in Kington who need a local doctor.”
Arthur vowed not to give up the effort to attract, recruit and retain more family doctors to Kingston, including having the city put back on the High Physician Need list.