Ontario Connecting More People to Primary Care in the Northwest

KENORA–RAINY RIVER— Ontario is connecting more people to care in their communities by increasing access to primary care teams across the province, including in Kenora-Rainy River. This includes increasing the number of nurse practitioners across Ontario to make it faster and easier for people to access primary health care services when they need it, closer to home. 

“This year’s ‘Nurses Week’ is a great opportunity to be reminded of the selfless work nurses do every day, keeping community members healthy and safe,” said Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora–Rainy River. “I know first-hand the unique challenges health-care providers experience, particularly in the Northwest. Our government continues to make strategic investments that contribute to a supportive and connected health care system.”   

Locally, this includes:

  • The Fort Frances Family Health Team will receive funds to help support salaries, benefits and hire more administrative and data management support;
  • The Fort Frances Family Health Team will also receive funds to support mental health and addictions services and programs;
  • Points North Family Health Team in Vermilion Bay will receive additional social worker resources to increase patients’ access mental health supports. Increased clerical support will also help patients connect with primary care and urgent care quickly and conveniently;
  • A new Nurse Practitioner and three Registered Nurses at Fort William Family Health Team to support community primary care needs, as well as a new Social Worker to support patients referred from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre emergency department – many of whom have complex needs and require additional care as well as more administrative support;
  • New education spots in Thunder Bay to train 37 Registered Practical Nurses and 50 Registered Nurses.

To strengthen the health care workforce and ensure care is there for people when and where they need it, the province is adding 150 more education seats for nurse practitioners starting in 2023-2024, bringing the total number of new seats to 350 each year. Expanded access to education opportunities for nurses will also be provided by adding up to 500 registered practical nurse and 1,000 additional registered nurse education seats in 2023-2024. This is in addition to the 1,500 nursing education spots added in 2022-2023.  

“This Nursing Week, May 8-14, I want to applaud nurses across Ontario for the invaluable role they play in providing connected and convenient care across this province,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are building the health care workforce by increasing education spots for nurses in all regions of Ontario and will continue to invest in programs to train, recruit, and retain more nurses as we build a stronger, more resilient health care system.”

To improve access to primary care in areas of greatest need and help bridge the gap in accessing interprofessional primary care for vulnerable, marginalized, and people without a primary care provider, Ontario is expanding and creating up to 18 new interprofessional primary care teams.  Ontario will call on primary care providers and organizations such as Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations, and Community Health Centres to begin the application process.

Growing interprofessional primary care teams, supporting mental health and increasing education opportunities for health human resources in every region will ensure that people can get the care they need right in their own communities.


Interprofessional primary care teams include doctors, nurses, socials workers, and other health care professionals who work together to provide comprehensive primary care programs and services based on the needs of their communities.