Council supports regional approach to doctor recruitment

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Clearview council is supporting the Joint Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee’s desire to take a more regional view and operate independently from municipal council.

The committee was created by The Town of The Blue Mountains council in 2019 as an advisory committee to participating councils in the development, implementation, and progress monitoring of a sustainable solution for the recruitment and retention of primary care physicians for the committee membership catchment population.

Clearview Township Mayor Doug Measures is a member of the committee and Clearview has supported the efforts with an annual contribution of $25,000.

In a presentation to council on Jan. 10, chair June Porter and Town of The Blue Mountains Councillor Rob Sampson highlighted the committee’s White Paper, which outlines the need for more physicians in the area.

It recommends looking at offering financial incentives to new doctors looking to establish themselves in the area, similar to neighbouring communities, and engaging the services of a professional recruiter who can take on the role of implementing a recruitment and retention plan for the region.

Porter said the area has lost five doctors due to financial incentives elsewhere, and the region is in need of doctors that can take on new patients, to ease the burden on walk-in clinics and emergency room visits, in addition to giving people an option to seek health care closer to home. She said family physicians often come

out of school with a lot of debt and the high cost of real estate can be a deterrent to locating locally. She said there are also many incentives to locating in the region, including lifestyle and amenities, and the existence of family health teams, which are attractive to new doctors.

“We need to learn to crawl and then we need to learn to walk and run. I think the governance structure that would support that is something different than being a committee of Town of The Blue Mountains council. We just need to take that step and I’m hopeful that your council would support that concept,” said Sampson. “Shortage of primary care is not a municipal obligation but something all our residents need and we need to step into the void and somehow help to create that.”

Sampson said health care does not adhere to municipal boundaries, and he is hoping that those at the provincial government level are starting to realize that.

“We are seeing the ministry becoming more enlightened as we spend a lot of time enlightening them,” said Sampson. “We’re getting there.”

Council voted to support the request from the committee to progress to a new governance structure which will enable it to operate independently across the region, access funds to action and deliver tangible results, while reporting to a regional group such as the South Georgian Bay Mayors and CAO Committee; and that the new governance structure be supported beyond an elected term to address the immediate, known future retirements and future population growth.

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