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Summit North and the Northern Physician Resources Advisory

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.  

January 24, 2018, in response to an urgent need for action, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Health Force Ontario 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.

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 oversaw the development of the Northern Physician Resources Action Plan, and has overseen the implementation of several recommendations.

One of the recommendations was to develop a model for rural Northern Ontario, based on the success of rural physician resource development in Queensland Australia.  To that end, Dr. Denis Lennox visited several communities in Northern Ontario and met with several partner organizations like the OMA to help create a model that could be developed here.

In March of 2020, a new position at NOSM was launched – the Assistant Dean of Physician Workforce Strategy – and work on the implementation of the Rural Generalist Pathway was begun.

Summit North

HHR Executive SummaryBuilding a Flourishing Physician Workforce – Summit North 2018
Download the Executive Summary



HHR report cover

Building a Flourishing Physician Workforce – Summit North 2018 (Full Report)
Download the full report



HHR Summit North Documents and Information

HHR Summit North Resources

1. HQO data/performance metrics for Northern Ontario

This is an online report that provides background information on the geography and key health statistics across Northern Ontario. Population perspectives of Francophone, First Nations and Métis peoples are also highlighted.

2. Rural Road Map for Action

With the goal of supporting a robust family physician rural workforce, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada created this document through broad consultation, literature reviews and background research. It provides 4 broad directions, and 20 specific actions.

The Road Map for Action uses a social accountability framework and outlines roles for the WHO five key Social Accountability partners: health care professionals, policy makers, health and education administrators, universities and communities. Representatives from each partnership group attended Summit North.

3. Summit to Improve Health Care Access and Equity for rural Communities in Canada Final report July 2017

This document outlines the work done on February 22, 2017 to launch the Rural Road Map for Action. Here particular actions (from the 20 in the original report) are prioritized for geographic regions – see pages 9 and 10.

4. Documents produced since Summit North:

  1. The Making it Work Framework launched the year after Summit North and the tools on the site have been evolving ever since.  This work has its own section on this site.
  2. The Northern Health Equity Strategy has been published by HQO and can be found here with reference to health human resources on page 21.
  3. Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Transformation Summit document links are below:

On the day of the summit this presentation was shared by Dr. Denis Lennox and Dr. Roger Strasser.

Building a Flourishing Physician Workforce – Presentation

Making It Work Framework

The Making it Work Framework is a framework for rural health workforce recruitment and retention that was developed through a 7-year international partnership of circumpolar nations building investment recommendation and practical tools for administrators, supported by evidence and grounded in northern, rural and remote experience. The “The Recommender” on the Making it Work website for tools and how they are being applied in various places.

Past Communiqués