Reports & Relevant News

Report: Changes needed to improve retention, services and access to dietitians in Ontario’s primary health care

On November 25, Dietitians of Canada released the Dietitian Workforce in Ontario Primary Health Care Survey Report. Over four hundred dietitians working in FHTs, NPLCs, CHCs and FHOs were surveyed in spring 2015 to describe the current workforce and roles of the dietitian, and to identify factors supporting the integration of their roles into the healthcare system.

Patient access to nutrition care, challenges working to full potential and high turnover all arose as key issues.

Highlights from the report include:

  • 87% of respondents are not satisfied with compensation.
  • 35% intend to leave their current position within the next two years, and another 49% are undecided. Only 22% plan to stay in their current position beyond the next two years.
  • Poor integration with other sectors (acute care, LTC, homecare, public health) is perceived.
  • Due to lack of resources (time and FTEs), RDs are not practicing to their full scope which includes prevention and promotion activity.

These findings are in line with AFHTO’s 2014 report, Toward a Primary Care Recruitment and Retention Strategy for Ontario. As outlined by AFHTO and our colleagues, the inability to offer competitive compensation to interprofessional healthcare providers is a huge barrier to attracting and keeping skilled providers in primary care teams. Staff turnover, and the challenge of finding replacements, create gaps in care.

Underfunding holds back the value of primary care teams. While they continue to deliver more value to patients and the health system, this sector remains woefully undervalued. AFHTO and our colleagues continue to advocate on behalf of primary care teams to strengthen recruitment and retention across the sector.

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