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Yes, Quebec does lack doctors

Montreal, March 15, 2018 – It is often said that Quebec has a lot of physicians. In fact, the province has fewer doctors than most other industrialized countries and should put an end to university admissions quotas, shows a publication launched today by the MEI.

“There is an urgent need to do better when it comes to health care. One in five Quebecers still does not have a family doctor, and waiting lists remain a problem,” argues Patrick Déry, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI and the author of the publication. “How can access to care improve when the government implements rationing from the start?”

Including medical residents, Quebec has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants. This ratio is somewhat higher than the Canadian average, but below that of most industrialized countries. For example, if Quebec had the same ratio as Australia, namely 3.5 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, it would have around 6,000 more doctors, and nearly 20,000 more if it had as many as Austria, with its ratio of 5.1.

“Increasing the number of doctors would address the labour shortage in the public system, and would allow unaffiliated private clinics to develop without competing for staff with the public system. This would increase the overall supply of health care, which is something Quebecers desperately need,” adds Mr. Déry.

Recall that the Health Minister—who already said that the province had around 2,000 doctors too many— announced a reduction in the number of medical school admissions last year in order to keep physicians from ending up unemployed in the future.

“Trying to plan the development of a sector as vast and complex as health care years in advance is doomed to fail. The Health Department is still trying to predict the needs of Quebecers by calculating, ten years ahead of time, the number of doctors that will be needed to meet them. But in the end, it only succeeds in making patients wait, because there is still a shortage of physicians,” says the author of the publication.

“We have to do away with artificial medical school enrolment quotas and allow all those with the ability to study medicine to do so. This would inject a much-needed supply of oxygen into Quebec’s health care system, which could then evolve in response to the needs of patients, instead of according to the dictates of bureaucrats and politicians,” concludes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI.

The Viewpoint entitled “It’s Time to End Med School Quotas” was prepared by Patrick Déry, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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Interview requests: Pascale Déry, Vice President, Communications and Development, MEI / Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2233 / Cell.: 514-502-6757 / Email: pdery@iedm.org

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