A record number of Nova Scotians are looking for a family physician, according to figures posted Monday by Nova Scotia Health.
The July 1 report shows 100,592 people were registered as needing a family doctor. That's a six per cent increase from August 2021.
The greatest need continues to be in the Halifax area. As of July 1, there were 38,567 people in the central zone looking for a doctor, followed by 29,122 people in the western zone. There were 21,040 people in the northern zone and 11,862 people in the eastern zone on the hunt for a family physician.
Responding to questions from reporters Tuesday, Health Minister Michelle Thompson said she expected the higher numbers, despite her party's promise in last summer's election campaign to fix health care.
"I'm not surprised that that number has increased," said Thompson. "We have seen that there are a number of physicians, as an example, who are preparing for retirement.
"We know that people have gone on the [wait-list] as a result of retirement or because they're anticipating retirement."
Booming population also to blame, says minister
Thompson said another factor was Nova Scotia's growing population.
"We've said all along we anticipate that it will get worse before it gets better," said Thompson.
The minister could not say when she anticipated the number of people looking for a doctor might start to go down.
"I don't know, I don't want to be the one to say the date, but I do feel we will make incremental progress," she said. "We've had a net gain of 95 new family physicians in the province.
"We're going to continue to work hard, continue to do recruitment efforts."
Churchill puts blame on PC government
Zach Churchill, a former Liberal health minister and the party's newly elected leader, blamed the Houston government for the fact one in 10 Nova Scotians are without a family physician.
"The Houston government has consistently broken critical campaign promises that Nova Scotians elected them on," said Churchill in a news release.
"More people than ever are on their own when it comes to accessing health care because of this government's mismanagement on the file."
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