More than 2M Quebecers don’t have access to primary care: OurCare report

Final Canadian OurCare report, developed in collaboration with McGill University researchers, shares patient-led solutions to help address the worsening primary care crisis in Quebec
Published: 25 March 2024

More than two million people in Quebec don’t have access to primary care, the front door to the healthcare system, according to the newly released OurCare report on Canada. This is among the worst rates in the country, the report states.

To address a medical system that’s facing an aging and growing population, the OurCare report – developed in collaboration with McGill University researchers – focuses on the public’s expectations when it comes to defining good primary care and what policy changes they recommend to shape the system.

Over 16 months, OurCare heard from nearly 10,000 people across Canada about their experiences and aspirations for a better primary care system.

“The OurCare initiative showed that members of the public want to be heard when there is a discussion about improving healthcare and they want to be part of the decision-making process,” says Dr. Nebojsa Kovacina, Quality Improvement program director in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University and co-lead of the Quebec component of OurCare. “It struck me how well the members of the public understand the present issues and challenges of the system.”

Despite the diversity of the people who participated in the survey, they agreed on six key elements that every person in Canada should expect from the primary care system:

  • Everyone has a relationship with a primary care clinician who works with other health professionals in a publicly funded team.
  • Everyone receives ongoing care from their primary care team and can access them in a timely way.
  • Everyone’s primary care team is connected to community and social services that together support their physical, mental and social well-being.
  • Everyone can access their health record online and share it with their clinicians.
  • Everyone receives culturally safe care that meets their needs from clinicians that represent the diversity of the communities they serve.
  • Everyone is served by a primary care system that is accountable to the communities it serves.

People in Quebec specifically highlighted some of the following solutions to the primary care crisis.

  • Reduce time spent by clinicians on low-value administrative tasks to free up time for clinical tasks, continuing education, and quality improvement.
  • Offer greater autonomy to health care professionals other than physicians to facilitate access to care and services.
  • Promote and encourage better collaboration between healthcare providers and community services.
  • Develop public education and communication tools including information on how the system works, services offered, and the rights of users.
  • Define a better legal framework for overseeing private for-profit practice, so as not to undermine access to healthcare services covered by the public system.
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