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Gélinas wants more nurse practitioners in primary health care

NDP is seeking to get more funding to let nurse practitioners take on an increased role as primary health care providers in Ontario
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Ontario opposition health critic France Gélinas spoke in the Legislature.

Ontario opposition health critic France Gélinas wants the Ontario health care system to more fully accept the role of nurse practitioners in dealing with the crisis of not enough primary health care providers in Ontario. 

The Nickel Belt MPP (NDP) was speaking in the Ontario legislature on Monday when she asked a question on behalf of the Nurse Practitioners Association of Ontario (NPAO), who visited Queen's Park to propose solutions to the 2.3 million Ontario residents who do not have a family doctor or any sort of a primary health care provider.

"They are ready, willing and able to care for thousands of orphan patients. Unfortunately, although all 25 Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics are willing to help, they represent only four of the 78 teams announced by the minister," said Gélinas. 

"Will the minister listen to the solutions brought forward by the Nurse Practitioners Association, open positions for nurse practitioners and give Ontarians access to primary care?" she asked.

Parliamentary assistant Nolan Quinn responded for the ministry of health and said the province is investing heavily to prop up primary care. 

"We invested $110 million, and we’ve topped that investment with another $546 million over the next three years to expand to another 600,000 Ontarians to have primary care," said Quinn.

He added that Ontario is also funding the largest expansion of medical school spots in over a decade, adding 1,212 undergraduate and 1,637 postgraduate seats across Ontario. Quinn said 60 per cent of those spots will be dedicated to family medicine.

Gélinas said that by the time some of those measures take effect, 10 years will have passed. Gélinas said by 2026, an estimated four million Ontario residents will not have a family doctor. She said nurse practitioners can do many things to ease the crisis but have not seen a salary increase since 2018.

"When will the minister start showing respect for hard-working nurse practitioners and, at a minimum, close the salary gap between nurse practitioners in hospitals and other care settings?," Gélinas asked.

Nolan responded that Ontario will continue to invest in primary care funding and with budget increases will expand coverage to 600,000 more people. Nolan added that the previous Liberal government, propped up by the NDP, cut numerous residency school spots.

"Right now, currently, almost 90 per cent of Ontarians have a family care doctor or primary care health team. But we know there’s more that needs to be done, and we will continue doing what needs to be done to ensure that all people of Ontario have the health care they need, whether it’s in the north, east, west or south," said Nolan. 


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