More doctors. Reduced wait times. Improved care for seniors.

These are the issues identified by Barrie-area residents as the most pressing in the local health-care sector right now, preliminary results from an ongoing public survey being conducted by the show.

The survey is being conducted in more than 600 communities across the province, and 7,400 Ontarians have responded so far.

Locally, 387 Barrie and Muskoka District-area residents have participated. Twenty-five per cent identified seniors’ health, including home and long-term care, as the top priority for the sector. Another 25 per cent listed reduced wait times as being of the highest urgency, while 20 per cent relayed the need for more doctors as the greatest need.

Residents were also asked for input on the “single most important thing that can be done to improve health-care services in your community today,” to which 41 per cent mentioned investment to improve access to hospitals, clinics and medical facilities. Twenty-seven per cent want easier access to doctors’ appointments, Dr. Sohal Goyal, chair of the association’s local district, said.

“These findings are incredibly important in helping us develop a plan to improve health care and create a more integrated and sustainable system for all Ontarians,” Goyal said. “This is a huge province, and health-care priorities here can be very different from those in other regions like Toronto. By completing this public survey, you help make the voice of the Barrie area and Muskoka heard.”

Other initial findings from the survey show 58 per cent of residents said their view of local health care has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. And 46 per cent of respondents want government to give improving health care in this community the same priority as economic recovery from the pandemic.

The association will use the survey results to design its plan to improve health care, which is scheduled for release this fall. There is still time for area residents to have input; the survey will remain open through the Labour Day weekend at .