KAWARTHA: The Kawartha Lakes Health Care Initiative (KLHCI) was granted its request for up to $23,500.00.
The funds will be taken from the Doctor Recruitment Reserve to support a Physician Return of Service Agreement. For those who don’t know what that is, in a nutshell, a physician who is given, usually from an underserviced municipality, a set amount of funds for schooling and post-graduation then returns to such place to provide his or her services.
Councillor Stephen Strangway said this process helps with recruiting future medical personnel.
“We have another doctor coming to the community and we certainly appreciate council’s support,” he said.
Councillor Isaac Breadner, although happy about the new addition to local healthcare services, wanted to find out more about the finances behind the request.
“I’m trying to under this, as we’re coming up to budget, how some of these programs work. My question is how the KLHCI is paid for, with municipal tax payers money?”
Director of Community Services Craig Shanks said the city provides operational funding each year to the KLHCI (approximately $64,000) and also contributes to the Doctor Recruitment Reserve.
“So we are tax-supporting the reserve, and our policy is to keep the reserve around $100,000 at all times, and then if it gets below that, they [the KLHCI] come with a request? Is that how I understand it?” asked Councillor Breadner.
City CAO, Ron Taylor said, “The annual allocation to the reserve is determined by council. The last couple years it has been around $100,000, based on historical withdrawals from the reserve. It’s maintained at that balance throughout the year, as agreements are made for doctor recruitment, and each request comes through council to withdraw.”
Going forward, Councillor Breadner asked, if there were going to be any inquiries into the provincial government to change this sort of policy.
“To me, it seems like it is a deficiency in the provincial system that is making us, as a municipality, have to pay for this. I personally don’t think this is something we should be paying for with municipal tax dollars,” he said.
The answer to Councillor Breadner’s question was, no, currently there aren’t any initiatives, partly because it’s the municipalities' responsibility to recruit their own doctors.
When summing up the decision to approve the request, Councillor Stephen Strangway said he thinks the current system is working just fine.
“I’m not going to get into a debate with Councillor Breadner on the value of this program,” he said. “I certainly heard his comments, and I think myself and councillors who have been around the table for a while realize fully that this is a partnership between us, the hospital and the City of Kawartha Lakes, so this isn’t exclusively from the city, and is a great initiative.”