Ad Pleading for Doctor Results in Multiple Offers, Hundreds of Messages From Canadians With No Family Physician

Ad Pleading for Doctor Results in Multiple Offers, Hundreds of Messages From Canadians With No Family Physician
Janet and Michael Mort. (Courtesy of the Mort family)
Lee Harding

Janet Mort bought a newspaper ad in a desperate plea to get a doctor for her ailing husband Michael. A helpful doctor and hundreds of Canadians in the same plight responded—including some in Mort’s own family.

The Brentwood Bay resident in the Victoria, B.C., area placed her ad on page A2 in the July 30 issue of the Times Colonist.

“Wanted: Licensed medical doctor for prescription renewal. Urgent! Please?” read the ad.

“We need a doctor’s help to renew my 82-year-old husband’s prescriptions. We will agree to any reasonable fee: Michael is worth it.”

The Epoch Times interviewed Janet Mort to find out how her ad had worked out.

“We've accepted one doctor gratefully. There were up to five doctors in the local area who were anonymously willing to take Michael on as a patient. And I say anonymously, because they're afraid that their name will get out there and that there'll be a horde of people standing in the hallway,” Mort said.

“What I've discovered through this process is, this is an endemic. This is a serious, serious issue.”

Mort said she knew her 59-year-old son and his wife have not had a family doctor for five years, but since placing her ad, other family members have confessed similar problems, including her 30-year-old granddaughter who also lives in the Victoria area.

“She said, 'Grandma, I heard you on the news last night. … I went to see my doctor yesterday with the two kids. My doctor told me she's moving and she won't be here in two months. I'm not going to have a doctor.' And one of her kids is autistic, and needs ongoing medical support,” Mort said.

“My brother called me this morning from Quebec.  He's 81. The first thing he said was, 'Janet Mort, can I just ask you to change what you're saying in all of these media interviews? ... Could you start saying ‘Canada’ instead of ‘B.C.’ because I've been living in Quebec for 15 years and I don't know if you know it, I have not been able to get a family doctor in Quebec and I commute to Toronto, to my old family doctor, when I need help.’ I was stunned. I didn't know that.”

'Another Project'

Mort is a former school principal who sought answers to why some students had such poor literacy. She was part of the Sullivan Royal Commission and became superintendent of educational innovation for the province of B.C. to implement the recommendations the commission made.

Mission accomplished, she pursued a PhD in early learning at age 60. In 2020, Janet Mort, PhD, was awarded the Order of B.C. for her work, though reception of the award was delayed until this past March due to the pandemic.

“I'm chuckling because I got a call from my 94-year-old godmother who I’m named after. I'm Janet Nadine Morton, she's Nadine. I just finished an app for literacy, and I've written numerous books. And she keeps counselling me to slow down, as my mother would have,” she said.

“Last night, she phoned [and said], ‘Janet Nadine Mort, have you started another project? I just saw you on Windsor TV.’ I can't escape. So yes, I do have something I want to say and I hope I have another minute to say it.”

Family Physician

The Morts have had no doctor since their physician of 15 years retired at the age of 75 last Christmas. Janet Mort says, “he saved Michael’s life many times.”

“Michael's been in critical medical care since he had brain surgery in his late 50s. And they literally took his brain out of the skull. One neurosurgeon held it, while the other one repaired the damage inside. It wasn't actually his brain, it was around the skull that has become infected. So, Michael experiences many different [things] from seizures to heart issues related to that surgery,” she said.

“I have been Michael's caregiver for 15 years in our home. I feel incredibly responsible for whether he lives or dies. And I want him. We're married for 51 years. I think this situation could cut his life shorter, much shorter than it might have been, unless somebody acts. And now I've got a family doctor who will now take on these bigger issues.”

Ad in Paper

Mort said her advertisement’s reach was magnified many times over by reposts on social media. The doctor she chose said that was what made the difference.

“[The doctor saw] six social media posts [about the ad], and she said, 'By the sixth one, I just felt moved that I had to take [Michael],’” Mort said.

Mort posted her husband's email address on the ad, something that allowed many public responses.

“I'm getting phone calls from people that I haven't seen for 15 years saying, ‘I don't have a doctor, either.’ I have hundreds of emails now. The stories are very sad and very frightening. And you know what? We're not talking about it. This is Canada," she said.

New Cause

Mort says her recent experience has given her a new cause.

“I'm going to do something. … We as citizens need to start demanding what we need, we won't do it the way some Americans have. [We have] to do it our way,” she said.

“We need to start thinking about the service in a different way. We need to take it apart and start with some new thinking and build a new one that doesn't rely on the old one and make it work."