Where are
the Family Doctors ?
Help us fight restrictions on recruiting family doctors.

In several regions more than 35% of citizens do not have family doctors and the government prevents their recruitment.


Show your need for a family doctor by registering.



It has been 16 years since the regional manpower plans were put in place with the purpose of ensuring an equitable access to family doctors.

À propos - Plans régionaux d’effectifs médicaux (PREM) en médecine de famille - Professionnels de la santé - MSSS (gouv.qc.ca).
The target of the government is 85% registration of the inhabitants with a family doctor.

However, the most recent data from the MSSS shows a marked variation in registration rates with a family doctor in the regions of the province.

The RLS sub-region of Faubourgs - Plateau-Mont-Royal - St-Louis-du-Parc (632) is a unique medical region in Quebec. The worst rate of registration with a family doctor in the province is 60%. This is far from the Quebecois average of 79% and the best sub-region, Charlevoix has 92%. With a total population of 166,866 inhabitants, 67,012 citizens are orphans. Despite this serious situation, the MSSS calculates that there is a surplus of front-line family doctors in the territory of 21 full-time doctors.

Their calculations are simplistic. One family doctor on the front line for every 1,500 inhabitants translates needs 111 doctors, with is 132 is in place. But absent from the calculation is the effect of portability. Doctors in the territory have registered 67,004 Quebecers who do not live in the territory.

It is surprising that businessmen like Mr. Legault and Mr. Dube chose to follow the symplistic calculations of his MSSS. Mr. Legault considers that the doctors of the region do not work hard. His minister Mr Dube follow the same logic and transfer the doctors to the 450 regions. For us, portability is a measure of water quality.

Speaking of the large regions, the population of Montreal has the worst registration rate with a family doctor in Quebec at 68%, far from the best region, Lac St Jean at 92%. There are more than 600,000 orphan Montrealers. Despite this situation, 382,954 patients from other regions are registered with family doctors in Montreal. If Montreal's family doctors only saw its own residents, there would be an 86% enrolment rate.

At present the percentage of orphans in Montreal and several sub-regions is increasing. Montrealers without a family doctor (and doctors about to retire) are stuck with three options:

Do without a family doctor and see an occasional walk-in clinic

  • It does little to address the complex needs of primary care and has poorer outcomes

Go into the rapidly growing private sector

  • The current rate is $3,000-5,000 per year for three visits and a blood test.
  • It's hard to swallow when your tax dollars are spent to provide health care to your fellow citizens in the 22 regions where enrollment rates are over 90%.

Stop healthcare portability

  • It won't be long before people in the regions insist that doctors in their area prioritize locals and send other patients back to their local areas where there is less shortage.
  • This is a challenge because it is a core tenet of our health care system that encroaches on the doctor-patient relationship.
  • There is no effort made by the government or surrounding areas to repatriate these patients despite the allocation of doctors for them in their areas.
% Registrations with a family doctor by region

Click on a region to see the associated Sub-Regions below

Region Registration rates Population Not registered Region ID
Sub-Region Registration rates Population Not registered Region ID
Family Physicians working in primary care improve health.

Primary health care is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community (Institute of Medicine). It is essential care that is accessible to everyone, and includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, education and rehabilitation (Weel and Kidd 2018). Accessible primary health care is essential to achieving universal comprehensive health coverage.

Family physicians working in primary care improve health. This statement is supported by a large volume of peer-reviewed evidence from North America and around the world. An example is that provided by Barbara Starfield. In her seminal paper, she describes six mechanisms for this positive impact of primary care: greater access to needed services, better quality of care, a greater focus on prevention, early management of health problems, the cumulative effect of the main primary care delivery characteristics, and the role of primary care in reducing unnecessary and potentially harmful care (Starfield et al. 2005).

Family physicians in primary care keep people healthy through a mixture of primary and secondary prevention, timely diagnosis, effective treatment of illness, and coordination of specialist care. A full-time family physician makes 2500 new diagnoses each year including approximately 500 individual diseases (Hodgkin 1979). The average number of consultations per family physician is 5.3 per year (Hippisley-Cox et al. 2007) and patients may present three to four symptoms per consultation (Allander 1974). To care for their patients with these diseases an individual family physician will prescribe 233 different drugs per year representing nearly a third of all available drugs at the time (Bakker et al. 2007). This makes them a unique specialty within medicine. The ability to be able to diagnose and manage so many conditions require specialist training, and continuous education throughout their career.

Community based primary care reduces mortality. An increase of one primary care physician per 10,000 population is associated with an average mortality reduction of 5.3 percent, or 49 per 100,000 per year (Macinko et al. 2007). Family physicians achieve this by recognizing and diagnosing symptoms early, referring appropriately, in addition to managing chronic diseases effectively. As a specific example the absence of a “established primary care physician” may result in an increased mortality of 25% in patients with lung cancer (Su et al. 2019).

Community based primary care reduce avoidable hospital admissions for both acute and chronic conditions. Thirty percent of hospital admissions are potentially avoidable(Rizza et al. 2007). Each 15 to 20 percent increase in family doctor supply per 10,000 population reduces hospital admission rates by about 14 per 100,000 for acute illnesses and about 11 per 100,000 for chronic illnesses, even after controlling for the degree of social deprivation in the area in which people live, their social class, ethnicity, and limiting long-term illness (Gulliford 2002).

When Family Doctors have too many patients, the care they can provide will suffer. “When general practitioners are relatively overworked the patients whom they send to hospital may be relatively sicker; and in these areas patients are more likely to be admitted as emergencies”. A reduction of 5000 hospital deaths per year was associated with an 8.7% increase in general practitioners (Jarman et al. 1999).

Primary care is cheaper than secondary care. Using a primary care physician compared with using a specialist result in 33% lower annual adjusted health care expenditures. This remains the same even after adjustment for demographics, health insurance status, reported diagnoses, health perceptions, and smoking status. (Franks and Fiscella 1998).

Legal Action

Help us fight restrictions on recruiting family doctors.

Letter to the Ministry of Health Support