08/13/2013 04:07 EDT | Updated 10/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Manitoba credits spending, building hospitals, for record number of docs

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government says its spending on health and education is paying off in the province.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald says investments to expand the University of Manitoba's medical school, create recruitment grants, and build and renew hospitals has resulted in a record 2,599 doctors now practising in the province.

Oswald says the number of doctors continues to rise because the government knows health care is a top priority of Manitobans and won't act on calls for haphazard cuts or privatization of the health system.

New registration statistics released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba report a total of 2,599 physicians practising in Manitoba, 61 more than last year and an increase of 562 since 1999.

The province gave funding to expand medical school spaces to 110 students per year, and Oswald says that has helped reverse the exodus from Manitoba that was seen in the 1990s.

The University of Manitoba has a target of filling 70 per cent of residencies with Manitobans, meaning graduates from the province and Manitobans who studied elsewhere are weighted higher in the review process, helping to get more doctors back into communities.

"The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba is pleased to see the number of licensed medical practitioners in Manitoba rise as it has over the past 10 years," said Dr. Bill Pope, registrar and chief executive officer of the college.

"The result of the close working relationship that exists between the college, the faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and the Physician Resource Co-ordination Office is better health care for Manitobans."