Michael Mantha: Northern Ontarians who need doctors are frustrated with delays and slow process for

MPP Michael Mantha has written Minister of Health and Long-Term care saying the slow, cumbersome process for registering family physicians with FHT is preventing people from getting on doctors’ rosters.

October 3rd, 2019

The Honourable Christine Elliott

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

5th Floor

777 Bay St.

Toronto, ON M7A 2J3



Dear Minister Elliott,

Last week I wrote to you regarding the Huron Shores Family Health Team (FHT). Since my last letter, the Huron Shores FHT continues to face problems with registering their new physicians. They have been successful in securing not only one but two new physicians for their clinic. However, Ministry officials have told them that the FHO application and registration will take up to 20 weeks. This is just not acceptable.

Since my last letter, they have received a confirmation from the Ministry that Dr. Workman will be able to start practicing with the Huron Shores Family Health Team as of Nov 1st. This is not a great response, however, they had been willing to accept it and prepare to start his clinic at that time. Subsequently, in follow up, on behalf of Dr. Murphy, they have been told that she will not be able to start practicing until Dec 1st. Again, this is not acceptable.

Dr. Workman and Dr. Murphy provided the following in regards to the situation:

“We acknowledge that when we made our final decision in early August to move to Blind River to practice medicine that everything was going to happen fast. The process of moving ourselves as well as our children prior to the start of the school year was essential to facilitate their integration into this wonderful community. We wish that the Ministry processes that would allow us to start seeing patients at the Huron Shores Family Health Team would move as fast as we have. It is very frustrating to see patients wanting and needing our services, but we are unable to provide it in a timely, efficient manner. If we would have known that the administrative process would be delayed by as much as 20 weeks, for factors out of the control of the Family Health Team and us, it would have swayed our decision on the timing of our move.”

Hospital Emergency rooms are bursting at the seams trying to keep up with patients, more specifically patients without a family doctor. So can you please explain why the process of rostering patients is being delayed? Allowing physicians to start seeing patients faster will result in cutting back the ER crowds. That is a FACT!

This would prove especially true with the onset of flu season. Clearly, Minister Elliott, we cannot afford to delay this process; patients cannot afford to wait any longer.

Sally Hagman, Blind River mayor had the following comments:

“The Town of Blind River and surrounding area are very fortunate to have two physicians who are interested in joining the Huron Shores Family Health Team. Given the challenges facing rural communities, in recruiting physicians, I would hope that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care would expedite the process to allow these doctors to set their practices as full service physicians. We want to ensure our physicians feel affirmed and validated in our community. As well, we want to continue to ensure that we have patient centred care.”

Minister Elliott, please look into this matter as it is an issue of great concern. We need to support our Northern Health Centers and fast track this process. This delay not only risks FHT’s missing out on physician recruitment opportunities, but it leaves patients waiting countless hours in Emergency Rooms taking time away from true emergencies.

I will finish off this letter with words from the Huron Shores Family Health Organization:

“The recruitment and retention of full services physicians and other health professionals in the North is difficult at the best of times. When Dr. Workman and Dr. Murphy made the decision to move their family to join our team in early August there was a real sense of excitement of what that meant for Blind River and the surrounding communities. Understanding that the process generally took up to 8 weeks to “get them on the team”, we went right to work. Early on in the process we were then told by our Ministry contacts that this process now could take up to 20 weeks. The Blind River area is an under serviced region that CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE THESE TWO MUCH NEEDED PHYSICIANS. This is a disservice to the community not to have them working ASAP as part of our team at the Huron Shores Family Health Team.”

The current process needs to be restructured to make it more effective and efficient in order to meet the needs of the communities which are already outpaced. If immediate changes are not forthcoming, the recruitment of new physicians will become exponentially more difficult as time goes by and the matter hits crisis proportions.


Michael Mantha

MPP/député, Algoma-Manitoulin


Cc: Dennis Guimond, Executive Director, Huron Shores FHT

MPP France Gélinas, critic Health and Long Term Care