The Upper Labrador Health Authority is warning of a looming shortage of physicians in the region amid a province-wide recruitment campaign.
While the campaign was launched two years ago, it has been stepped up recently.
In June, the Upper Labrador Health Authority said it had aimed to recruit 35 new doctors in 2018, but hopes to recruit 45, as the hunt for medical providers reaches a fever pitch.
Last year, there were 13 new physicians and 48 medical residents in the area.
At the start of the recruitment campaign in May 2016, the Upper Labrador Health Authority received 1,047 applications to fill 28 key open positions.
“In the last two years we’ve succeeded in increasing the number of highly trained physicians who’ve accepted positions in Newfoundland and Labrador,” it says on its website.
“Since 2016, 32 medical graduates have joined our health authority and it is only natural that we’re now looking to continue this growth trend.”
Earlier this year, Brandon Regional Health Authority in Northwest Newfoundland joined the effort, encouraging healthcare providers to submit resumes on its website.
Despite the pressure on physicians across the country, Newfoundland and Labrador still has the second highest median age of all provinces.
Advocates for older care users have said the recent funding decisions on home and community-based care programs have left many nursing homes, seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities short of staff.
A number of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador have posted job vacancies in the past six months.
Still, the Upper Labrador Health Authority says the solution is not cutting jobs or cutting services.
Instead, it says measures are being taken to increase wages, which experts say will attract doctors.
The campaign kicked off with a recruitment fair last week and the second forum was scheduled for Monday.
“Without the local physician recruiting partnership, the healthcare needs in the Upper Labrador would be far less adequate in the future,” said Danielle LeBlanc, chairperson for the Upper Labrador Community and Employers Resource Group, in a news release.
“We believe every child and adult deserves access to quality health care, but that dream is no longer within reach for many people,” she said.
“We are optimistic that, in the next two years, we will have a secured future with those who value what we have to offer, so we can live as the coastal community we are today.”
The future of the Upper Labrador Health Authority, or what would have been the Lower Labrador Medical Authority before it was replaced by the current health authority, is uncertain.
The Upper Labrador Health Authority’s control was revoked by the province in 2013, following allegations of mismanagement and expense spending.
Originally, the province said it wanted to take over the health authority following its independence being revoked, but former Health Minister Tom Marshall announced an agreement would be reached between Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. to transfer responsibility for the Upper Labrador Health Authority to Prince Edward Island.