Long waits at local walk-in clinics

After moving to Ottawa a year ago, it’s been a challenge for Michelle Zilbergerts to access medical care.

“I have been trying to find a family doctor since moving here,” she said.

Zilbergerts says there were very few options when she needed to see a doctor fast.

“It’s frustrating, going into walk-in clinics and being forced to wait hours upon hours sometimes, just to get an appointment,” she said.

Traditionally, walk-in clinics are used by people without family doctors, but now the clinics themselves are filling up.

As an otherwise healthy 24-year-old, Zilbergerts says she was thankful it wasn’t an emergency.

“It’s definitely been really frustrating, the inability to access a stable family doctor has been definitely really stressful,” she said.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says the struggle to find a family doctor has gotten worse across the country.

“There was a recent report in Ontario that found that by 2025, there will be several million patients who can’t find a family doctor,” said Dr. Alika LaFontaine, president of the CMA.

Althea, an Ottawa resident, tried to access three walk-in clinics in Ottawa two weeks ago, but failed.

“I went to three and spent over a $100 in cabs, but didn’t see a doctor in person,” she said.

Rachel Muir, who is a registered nurse and president of the Ontario Nurses Association for the Ottawa Hospital, says long wait times are also being felt in the emergency room at the hospital.

“The average wait time in the emergency room is now almost 21 hours, so that for me tells me that if there are spaces available in the walk-in clinics, they are taken up rapidly.”

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