Gaétan Barrette cut the number of future physicians

News 8 July, 2017
  • Archival Photo Chantal Poirier
    The minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette (right), has reduced the number of students admitted into medicine this year to avoid training doctors without work. Dr. Louis Godin (left) argues that the unemployment medical is not a problem.

    Hugo Duchaine

    Saturday, July 8, 2017 08:00

    Saturday, July 8, 2017 08:00

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    The government of Quebec reduced as early as this fall the number of students admitted in medicine, a measure that it intends to repeat, because he was afraid of training too many doctors unemployed.

    “[Doctors], there is enough […]. It’s been three years that suggests that I reduce the number of positions at the entrance and I do it for the first time “, ensures the minister of Health Gaétan Barrette, who has chosen to implement the recommendation of the College of physicians, faculties of medicine and his ministry.

    Upon reentry, a total of 17 students less than last year, will be admitted within the four faculties of medicine in the province. Then, such decreases are to be expected for the following two years, in order to reduce up to 51 the number of admissions within three years, according to the universities.

    But the minister Barrette argues that a decision will only be taken each year in order to adjust the shot as needed. If he remains cautious, it is that he ” prefer [] to deceive a little more towards the top than towards the bottom “, on the number of future doctors.

    It stipulates that the decisions taken today will have an impact only in seven or 10 years, depending on the choice of the students to turn to the family medicine or a specialty.

    1000 doctors too

    In addition, a document recently published by the ministry of Health predicts that at current rates of about 850 graduates per year, the province could end in 20 years, with more than 600 general practitioners and 500 specialists too.

    However, the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) judge these projections to be useless and unreliable. Especially given that they are based on a proportion of students who choose family medicine 55 %, when in reality, there is still a shortfall.

    Last march, The Newspaper reported that 85 posts of general practitioners faculties in quebec had remained vacant in the first round of the canadian resident matching.

    “The unemployment of health is not at all a reality that we face and we can absorb all future cohorts. There is not a region where there is no relative scarcity, ” says the president of the FMOQ, Louis Godin.

    If family physicians are not prepared to condemn the reduction of admissions to medicine, they do not see it no more the idea of the century.


    However, it is a measure that called itself the Fédération des médecins residents du Québec (FMRQ), which deplores the past couple of years that some specialties are saturated.

    According to its president, Christopher Lemieux, it is necessary to avoid investing in future physicians who will not be able to work here and will have to leave the province. “If we keep the same number of admissions, we will have a surplus,” says the resident in hemato-oncology.

    Photo courtesy

    Christopher Lemieux
    President FMRQ

    “It’s expensive [to train doctors] and one also wants to avoid an overconsumption, medical, as seen in Europe, this also has costs,” says Gaétan Barrette, adding that the money is not the reason for slashing the number of admissions, only the needs of the population.

    More a problem of organization ?

    If there are enough doctors, as the government claims, how is it that Quebecers still have so much poverty to see one, ask the patient advocacy groups.

    “There are still people who are not able to see a doctor when they need it “, denounces the president of the Council of the protection of the sick, Paul Brunet, who sees a bad eye the cup in admissions to medicine.

    He adds that, according to the most recent data on the emergencies of the ministry of Health, 2.5 million outpatients are presented in the hospitals last year, a number in constant increase these past years.

    “If there are enough or too many doctors, may be that it is poorly organized,” says Mr. Brunet.

    Not full-time

    For his part, the director general of the Regroupement provincial des users committees, Pierre Blain, believes that the problem lies in the schedules of the doctors.

    “It may be that there are too many doctors, the problem is that they are not working all full-time or they are not all in hospitals “, he laments.

    It is for this reason that Mr. Blain supports the law 20 the minister Gaétan Barrette to increase the productivity of the physicians of the province, and it calls for financial penalties for physicians who do not meet their obligations.

    Moreover, the minister of Health recognizes that the calculations on the forecast of the number of doctors within 20 years may not account for ” behavior in terms of the workload of doctors.”

    General practitioners

    Pierre Blain also believes that the government and schools should continue to encourage students to choose family medicine and to fill all of the positions of general practitioners prior to training new specialists.

    But the president of the Fédération des médecins résidents du Québec, Christopher Lemieux, also adds that there must be a better distribution of students in the specialties.

    “In the surgical specialties, there were too many residents for the available positions,” he said, adding in the same breath that specialities such as geriatrics are in high demand for new physicians, with the aging of the population.