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City Council looks into increasing physician recruitment 

City of BrantfordCity Council looks into increasing physician recruitment 

City of Brantford Council supported a resolution to investigate what would be needed to acquire a city-owned property, and the preliminary budget to outfit and operate a new family medicine clinic during the Committee of the Whole, planning and administration meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Councillor Dan McCreary moved the resolution to direct CAO Hutchings to undertake the following actions.

A.   Review the availability of city-owned space including but not limited to 177 Colborne St. West, 58 Dalhousie St; and 99 Wayne Gretzky Parkway and other properties which may be acquired by the City of Brantford; and

B.   Review costing and produce a preliminary budget for outfitting a family medicine clinic; and

C.  Review costing and produce a preliminary budget for ongoing operating costs.

Hutchings was asked to bring his findings back to the City Council in a report on or before August 31, 2024.

Speaking to the resolution, McCreary said that he and Councillor Rose Sicoli, having both served on the Family Physician Recruitment Committee, have had previous discussions regarding actions the City should be taking to better secure family physicians for Brantford residents.

“In discussion with the family physician recruitment folks, they indicated that this is something that we could do where there’d be no prohibition or restriction from the province with respect to our creation of something in the way of a clinic,” he said. “They also agreed that it would be providing a definite advantage to the City of Brantford in terms of being able to recruit doctors.”

He said that with so many communities working to acquire the same medical professionals, he hopes that if Brantford could provide a new family medicine clinic, perhaps they would have a better chance in securing doctors for the City.

“Although we here in the Council, and we in the City of Brantford believe that Walter Gretzky was correct, that this is the best place on the planet, it may not look all that rosy to physicians who are looking into business type arrangements and being able to pay back the million dollars that they’ve spent on student loans as well as operating a business,” continued McCreary. “I believe this will give us a leg up, and if we come to the conclusion that this is something that we can, should and will do, I believe this will go a long way to eliminating that need for physicians.”

Councillor Richard Carpenter said that he liked the idea and that it would hopefully give doctors what they’re looking for.

“I sit on the Brantford-Brant, Norfolk Health Team, it’s one of the things the province is actually doing right, as opposed to the Hamilton LHINS (Local Health Integration Network) where Hamilton being the larger partner, got most of the focus,” he said. “When I spoke to doctors there, they clearly don’t want a practice where they’re waiting for their phone to ring 24 hours a day. They want to have a practice where they can do a normal workday and not be on call all the time. That’s why you’re seeing family practices in groups and in clinics happening.”

Carpenter noted that while he supported McCreary’s concept, it was just one more thing the municipality would be picking up from the provincial government.

“It would go a long way if the province of Ontario didn’t have the lowest paid doctors in the country and if our provincial government would actually respect doctors to give them the wages they deserve in the first place, that would be very helpful to start off with,” he said. “This looks like we’re again, picking up on the province’s responsibility, but we’re going to have to do that because we’re all competing for doctors. We’re using taxpayers money to compete for doctors because there’s not enough of them being educated. …I could support the concept we’re talking about here, but it’s still the provincial government’s responsibility to pay for these bills and we need them to step up and understand how doctors want to work in the new age today and start funding that format.”

Sicoli said that she would also be supporting the resolution and that opening a new family medical clinic may be just what the City needs to up its physician recruitment.

“I think this resolution is terrific and I think it’s a nice segue into reviewing perhaps integrating physician recruitment into the City as well. We’re competing with other municipalities and Brantford really has to get out there,” she said. “We’re selling ourselves and we do that every day; We sell ourselves as a destination for our arts, culture and for tourism and it’s no different when you’re in the game of physician recruitment. Having a nice shiny new clinic that we can present to family physicians is a huge selling feature to entice them into our community and into Brantford.”

With some councillors stating that they wanted to make sure the project isn’t leased out to the private sector and stays within the City’s possession, McCreary clarified that that was why he specially worded the resolution as such.

“I firmly believe that the space that we create an opportunity like this in, has to be owned by the City of Brantford. Whether that’s a space that we own now, or whether that’s a space that we acquire, I think we need to look at the space and make our plans based upon what’s available,” he said. “Rather than going into the community and seeking proposals from third parties, it’s got to be our operation, it’s got to be our baby. We have to have full control over it with no sunset date on it.”

On a vote of 10-0 the resolution was carried unanimously, noting that Councillor John Sless was not present for the meeting.

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