All the seats are taken at a downtown walk-in clinic. People of all ages line up by the bank of windows overlooking JasperAvenue, where they’ll stand for up to a few hours before being seated in a second room to wait a little longer.
Some of the patients likely have family doctors, but use walk-in clinics when they can’t make quick appointments; other patients might not have family physicians at all and instead have medical records strewn across the city at several walk-in clinics.
The wait lines seem to suggest the city is facing a family doctor shortage. But according to Dr. Carl Nohr, President of the Alberta Medical Association, we’re actually a little over the Canadian per-capita average for physicians in Alberta. A 2014 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) supports that idea-it says that after 2010, the number of doctors working in Alberta and Saskatchewan leapt by 20 per cent, the biggest increase in Canada. A newly released report from CIHI stated that there are 10,019 doctors working in Alberta as of 2015. But Nohr still believes there are shortages in specific specialties and geographic areas and says Alberta would greatly benefit from a physician-resource plan to understand these deficiencies.