A family doctor for all Canadians is an insightful promise in this federal election campaign. It is hugely important but will be tremendously expensive.
This is how I see it with the current facts. Canada ranks 29 out of 34 high-income Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for the number of practicing physicians per thousand people.
Current figures from the British Columbia government indicate that around 780,000 people in the province are without a primary care doctor or nurse practitioner.
I think it is reasonable to assume that the figure for families without doctors is similar for all of Canada. The country’s total population (37 million) is roughly 8.06 times the population of 4.6 million for B.C. Therefore the number of people without a family doctor in Canada would be around 8.06 times 780,000 people, or 6,286,800.
The average size of a family practice in Canada is conservatively about 1,000 patients. If we divide 1,000 into the population of 6,286,800 people without family doctors, we need 6,286 new primary care doctors and nurse practitioners in Canada.
The cost of a four-year medical training program in Canada is $260,000, according to the figure listed in publications.gc.ca for the year 2002, and it is probably around $300,000 today.
So to train the 6,286 new and additional primary care doctors who are needed today will cost $1,886,040,000.
Oh my God! Who has been asleep at the switch here?