Seminar series on “Health workers and frontline care in the post COVID-19 context”

Across the country and globally, there are visible cracks in the primary healthcare system. In Canada alone, millions lack access to a dedicated family physician or equivalent frontline provider, and unsurprisingly visits to emergency rooms are increasing, further straining an over-stretched system. Central to an effective primary health system is a sufficient number of empowered and satisfied health workers. Instead, shortages of key health personnel, grievances, burnout and turnover have been seen across the country, and globally, heightening risks to current and future health workers, and to society at large. These challenges are due to a multitude of factors including choices about the health workforce, but also the broader contexts within which health systems function.

In this context, the aim of the seminar series on “Health workers and frontline care in the post-COVID-19 context” is to convene national and global experts to synthesize evidence and debate solutions to address the health workforce crisis in primary care. This seminar series is a collaboration between the Department of Family Medicine and the School of Population and Global Health at McGill University.

Upcoming events

November 15 - How can we make person-centered care a reality?

Past Events

How can migration of health workers strengthen the health system?


  • Margaret Walton-Roberts | Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Bukola Salami | Professor, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Death of a platitude: The limits of foundational concepts in primary care

On April 19, 2023, evidence and insights, both local and global, on how to revitalize Canada’s health workforce and primary care. Speakers included:

  • Danielle Martin, Chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Pierre-Gerlier Forest, CEO, Institut national de santé publique du Québec

Can we deliver care differently?

On March 29, 2023, we looked at examples of innovations in service delivery in Canada, using non-traditional channels of delivery as well as using new technology. Speakers included:

  • Joel Finlayson, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Zayna Khayat, VP Client Success & Growth, Teladoc

Where is the money?

On March 15, 2023, we explored the question of chronic underinvestment in health: does it alone explain the problems of access to care and the lack of front-line staff? Could most of the problems be solved by increasing the amount allocated to health? Panelists included:

  • Jeanette Vega, Former Minister of Social Development and Family, Chile and Former Director, National Public Health Insurance Agency, Chile
  • David Rudoler, Assistant Professor, Ontario Tech University and University of Toronto
  • Helen Salisbury, Lecturer, University of Oxford and General Practitioner

Where have all the healthcare workers gone? 

On January 25, 2023, Ivy Bourgeault (University of Ottawa) made a presentation entitled "The most important yet most neglected pillar of health systems: the health workforce" and was joined by Gilles Dussault (Nova University Lisbon) for a post-presentation discussion.

Why is there a crisis in primary care in Canada?  

In this inaugural seminar, on November 30, 2022, Ian Scott made a presentation entitled “Examining Family Physician Practice in Canada: Implications for training, recruitment, and retention” focusing on findings from a national survey of family practitioners documenting challenges in meeting the primary care needs of Canadians.

The presentation was followed by a moderated discussion led by Tim Evans, Director, of McGill’s School of Population and Global Health. Discussants Marion Dove, Department Chair, McGill Family Medicine and Mark Roper, Director of the Division of Primary Care at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) will provide their reflections, referencing current realities, policy shifts and needed reforms in how primary care is organized.

A summary of the main points raised in this session is available in the video below.

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