Finding a family doctor in Dufferin County has become a challenge for many people which is why the county’s health and human service committee has been asked to support and fund $50,000 for a physician recruitment task force.
In early May, Hills of Headwaters Collaborative Ontario Health Team created the physician retention and recruitment task force in response to the high number of physicians retiring in the area. The health team also found that there are only 74 active physicians in Dufferin County and Caledon combined.
With so few family doctors in the area, physicians tend to be very busy with high patient overload. Despite physicians taking on more patients, it’s estimated 6,500 people do not have a family physician in Dufferin and Caledon.
Health team executive director Tracy Coffin met with the committee to share their vision of improving Dufferin and Caledon health and well-being. She explained that when people can’t find a family doctor locally, they are forced to go elsewhere to seek medical treatment.
“Our purpose is to develop and implement a high-level strategy to attract, recruit and retain physicians,” Coffin said. “First of all, we want to bring in physicians. Second, we want to keep the physicians we have.”
“We also want to implement tactics to increase interest for physicians to practise in our area and develop and implement plans of succession for retiring physicians.”
One of the key activities the health team has been working on is developing a value proposition to show a representation of what it means to live and work in these areas in order to attract new health-care professionals.
“Recruiting doctors is a very challenging piece of work,” Coffin said, explaining there are rules about where physicians can and can’t practise. She explained there’s supplemental funding available for doctors set up in rural areas.
According to Coffin, many recruiters are looking to other countries for internationally trained doctors or Canadians who studied internationally due to the limited spots in medical schools in Canada.
To support the task force, the health team needs to get approximately $125,000. To achieve this, they are asking municipalities and organizations to contribute $50,000, which will help them hire a recruiter and pull more doctors into the area.
Chair of the health and human services committee, Darren White, said in the meeting another issue he has noticed doctors are facing is completing the amount of paperwork involved in operating an active practice.
“Some other doctors are doing 19 to 20 hours a week, just the paperwork, to keep up so then there’s no time to see patients,” White said. “It’s a multifaceted problem.”
Committee members raised questions about how the rollout of the task force will proceed, but Grand Valley Deputy Mayor Philip Rentsch, stated he does not think this is something Dufferin County should be funding.
“Not that it’s not worthy, but the only thing this is good for is recruiters because there’s going to be a whole bunch of them,” Rentsch said. “We are far better served spending money and effort advocating for changes that benefit the entire province because this is happening everywhere.”
Orangeville Mayor Lisa Post said she would be willing to support the motion at the committee level and contribute funding under one condition.
“As long as the hospital, Headwaters and Caledon are willing to do the same,” Post said.
The motion was carried and will be presented at the next County Council meeting.
By Rebecca Weston, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 30, 2023 at 11:57