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Northern Physician Resources Task Force (NPRTF)



The health and wellbeing of Northern Ontarians depends on having timely access to physicians and other healthcare providers, to meet the diverse needs of the people.  The Northern Physician Resources Task Force’s goal is to leverage best practices in physician recruitment and retention and to promote and advance ideas and strategies that ensure the design of emerging healthcare systems and transformation yield a strong physician workforce for the people of Northern Ontario.

On January 24, 2018, in response to an urgent need for action, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency and the Northeast and Northwest Local Health Integration Networks joined forces to host Summit North: Building a Flourishing Physician Workforce.

Summit North was held in Thunder Bay and brought together over 125 stakeholders from across Northern Ontario including municipalities, Indigenous and Francophone communities, Health Service Providers (hospitals, family health teams), physicians, educators, administrators, policy makers, and others. Participants spent the day identifying and gathering innovative ideas and strategies that could be considered to help solve ongoing challenges with physician recruitment and retention in the North.

Despite the efforts of many, there are Northern communities that continue to struggle with physician recruitment and retention. Summit North focused on family physicians in rural and remote communities and resulted in a compilation of short and long-term actions to help build a flourishing physician workforce that meets the needs of the people of Northern Ontario today, and into the future.

Following Summit North, the Northern Physician Resources Task Force (NPRTF) was created to ensure that a summary report would be finalized and that the actions from the Summit would be realized and momentum sustained across Northern Ontario.

The NPRTF is a grass-roots, multi-sectoral collaboration that has overseen the development of the Northern Physician Resources Action Plan based on Summit North recommendations and the nationally endorsed Rural Road Map for Action. Membership, based on the ‘’Partnership Pentagram’’, includes communities/municipalities, health professionals, academic institutions, policy makers and health administrators.

To date, the NPRTF has seen progress on the 5 key themes from the Northern Physician Resources Action Plan:

  • Creating healthy and resilient physicians and teams;
  • Ensuring welcoming communities;
  • Training and supporting skilled, competent rural generalist physicians;
  • Building Local and Regional Support Networks;
  • Ensuring supportive Infrastructure.

The Task Force has recently revised its Terms of Reference to allow a continued focus on implementation and monitoring of Summit North recommendations, ensuring alignment with emerging government direction and evolving health policy. The Task Force will continue its communication through stakeholders so that as many groups and individuals as possible are aware of the work being undertaken. Planning will begin shortly for a Summit North 2.0 to be held in 2020.

Building workforce capacity in the North and introducing innovative models of care will lead to more equitable access to care for patients and greater health equity for rural, remote, Francophone and Indigenous communities. Your participation on this exciting journey will be most appreciated.

For more information about the task force, please e-mail


Sarah Newbery MD CCFP FCFP                                          Paul Preston MD CCFP CCPE
Co- Chair, NPRTF                                                                   Co-Chair, NPRTF