doctors note ontario

Ontario to start discouraging employers from asking for doctors' notes to prove illness

Having to visit your healthcare provider and acquire a sick note to help justify time off work may soon be a thing of the past in Ontario, as the provincial government is planning on making some "common sense changes" to healthcare that include moving away from the use of doctors' notes.

The document, which patients usually have to pay for out of pocket, is just one of the many contributing factors to an untenable surge in the administrative work placed on physicians amid a serious shortage of family doctors in the province.

To ease this burden, Health Minister Sylvia Jones revealed on Wednesday the changes the province is working towards. These will include moving referrals and consultations online rather than relying on paper copies and fax machines, simplifying a number of key forms that doctors regularly use, using AI transcription services, and "encouraging employers to use other tools instead of sick notes."

The Ontario College of Family Physicians has been raising alarm bells about the state of the job for MDs across the province for months. The College notes that doctors are largely overwhelmed with clerical tasks like notes, which they say are often "unpaid and unnecessary" and eat up an additional five hours per full day of seeing patients.

"Family doctors need and want more time for direct patient care, but right now about 40 per cent of their time is spent on admin," the overseeing body wrote in a release on the subject last May.

Some practitioners say their paperwork load has increased more than 10 times faster than their salaries have in recent years, something that is pushing many to leave the profession altogether.

The College called this latest move by the province an important change that it has long asked for.

"While we know that much more needs to be done to address the administrative issues that take up to 19 hours a week, this is an important step to ensure that more Ontarians can see their family doctor," the group's president said.

"We remain committed to continuing to work with the Ontario government on solutions to ensure that family doctors have the support they need to help ensure every Ontarian has access to a family doctor."

Physicians in the province are also currently fighting the feds' capital gains tax increase, which they say disproportionately impacts the profession and will lead to even fewer doctors, many of whom incorporate their practices.

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