The Demise of Family Medicine

Published on May 30, 2024

As representatives of the Provincial Council of Women of Quebec and the Quebec Council of CFUW (Canadian Federation of University Women), we urgently bring to your attention the crisis in family medicine. To address this pressing issue, we have taken the initiative of sending a joint letter to the four Deans of Medicine in Quebec, the Minister of Health, and, for good measure, the health critic for each of the opposition parties in the National Assembly. (a French version of our letter is attached).

Gone are the days when family doctors, with their unwavering dedication, made home visits and schools had nurses conducting round-robin tours of elementary schools to respond to children's health needs. While the enrollment of medical students in family medicine has substantially declined in the last decade, the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a crisis in family medicine. Despite being burnt out and having low morale, family doctors retired early following the pandemic. Many are leaving their practices to resort to providing “virtual medicine.”

Students are not enrolling in family medicine as a field of medical studies. Neither the Quebec government nor medical faculties provide meaningful incentives. The government regulatory body AMP (Activités médicales particulières)dictates what family doctors may or may not do and who they are allowed to see, determines schedules that neglect any life-work balance, offers no administrative support, and other restrictive measures.

As a government cost-cutting measure, family doctors are replaced with nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists who take on greater responsibilities. This shift, however, comes at a cost. The quality of care from family doctors as primary care providers has diminished. With no inclusive teamwork, family doctors are burdened to treat complex medical cases and, with increased stress, are isolated to manage on their own. This crisis in family medicine is not just a professional issue but a community concern that demands immediate attention.

As concerned women, our letter is not a mere gesture but a meaningful statement of our solidarity. It reminds us that we must continue to act to ensure health services are maintained for the well-being of our families. Your action is crucial in this fight.

I encourage each of you to visit the College of Family Physicians of Canada's website to examine the actions you can also take.

Maria Peluso, Vice President,
Government Affairs,
Provincial Council of Women of Quebec.


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