Skip to content

Midland doc closing practice over 'systemic' issues causing family medicine 'crisis'

'I remain disappointed at the lack of serious reforms to improve primary care, despite the government rhetoric,' says Dr. Alia Ali, who also takes umbrage with hurdles facing foreign-born doctors
2022-05-06 Dr Alia Ali
Dr. Alia Ali is closing her Midland practice.

A local family doctor is closing her practice in March due to a wide range of 'systemic' issues, including licensing difficulties facing foreign-born doctors.

In a note to her patients, Dr. Alia Ali says the decision to shutter her practice March 31 hasn’t been made “lightly.”

“While there are compelling personal and family motives, the overwhelming reasons are systemic,” she writes in the letter obtained by MidlandToday. “Many of you are already aware of the crisis in family medicine.”

Ali, who did not respond to a request for comment, cites a number of reasons that have contributed to her decision.

“Despite maximizing hours and efficiencies, I have realized that my professional limitations do not allow me to do my job in a safe and supported way to provide optimal care to my patients,” she writes.

“I remain disappointed at the lack of serious reforms to improve primary care, despite the government rhetoric.”

Ali says the system continues to promote quantity over quality to professionally survive, requires long hours of administration/paperwork and demands that she fight to get the best for her patients, “which should be the overall goal and not a daily struggle.”

Ali says that the immense unsupported workload means she spends more time on forms and administrative tasks than actually treating patients.

“This has led to burnout as well as a recruitment crisis as few new grads want to open family practice,” she says, adding that the lack of adequate funding and support for family doctors doesn’t make it financially viable to run a practice.

“Despite statements by the government about the importance of family physicians, the complexity and commitment of the work that family physicians do is not fairly recognized,” she adds.

Ali’s first introduction to the Midland and area community was through working at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) in 2020. A little while later, she took over the practice of Dr. Richard Thomas at the Huronia Medical Centre.

In the hospital's introduction of Ali to the community, it describers her "passion” for family medicine, women’s health, medical teaching, working with marginalized populations and issues of justice and equity in healthcare.

“I am very excited to contribute to both family health and women’s health, while also practising medicine at GBGH,” Ali says in the May 2020 release.

“During my short time in Midland so far, I have really enjoyed the area and all it has to offer. I am looking forward to contributing to the health and well-being of this community.”

Originally from Pakistan, Ali moved to Canada in 2012 with her husband and two children.

She completed medical school in Pakistan, where she also did four years of residency focused on obstetrics and gynecology.

While living in Alberta prior to moving to Ontario, Ali also worked as a surgical assistant before deciding to pursue family medicine training at the University of Calgary.

After two years of training, she also completed a year of obstetrical surgical skills at the University of Manitoba before moving to Midland.

In her letter to patients, Ali says foreign-trained doctors have to jump through a multitude of hoops to be able to practice in Canada.

Ali says that within 1 ½ years of arriving in Canada, she passed all the exams required to be a family doctor in Canada.

“That's the fastest I can take them as per the system,” she writes. “Despite that, it took me a total of nine years before I was licensed to practice. Nine years that I could have served fellow Canadians as a doctor. Nine years less of doing odd jobs and adding to my debt and burnout.”

And Ali says she is one of the lucky ones.

“Most immigrant doctors are never able to work as doctors in Canada. This is a failure in the face of a shortage of doctors and no government has done anything to really change this, despite what they say. We as Canadians need to do better.”

Ali then encourages her patients to write to MPP Jill Dunlop to let her know how the “crisis in family medicine” is affecting everyone, from patients to physicians.

She says she’s making every effort to find a doctor to take over my practice.

“This is challenging and has made my decision to leave even more difficult, and why I deferred this decision as long as possible,” the letter concludes.

“In the event I am unable to find a successor, it is advisable that you find a new physician for future care as soon as possible.”

Reader Feedback

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
Read more