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Guelph/Eramosa council approves up to $60K for family doctor recruitment

The funds were approved in principle to be used to subsidize new Rockwood doctor's salaries while they build a roster of patients
Township of Guelph/Eramosa sign in front of the municipal office. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Facing a shortage locally and provincially, Guelph/Eramosa council decided to set some township funding to entice new family doctors to practice in Rockwood.

At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, Guelph/Eramosa council approved up to $60,000 be used as a top-up for the salaries for two potential new family doctors for the East Wellington Family Health Team (EWFHT) even if this is outside the scope of municipal government and a slippery slope as one councillor pointed out.

Correspondence from Kim Bell, executive director of the EWFHT, stated the EWFHT Rockwood branch had lost a family doctor who had a roster of 1,300 patients in the surrounding area. 

They may have found two new family doctors willing to settle but were asking council for funding to stabilize the doctors’ income during the early period. Bell’s letter explained salaried family doctors have their salaries tied to the number of rostered patients so there will be a gap in salary at first. 

If they were new medical grads, there is a provincial program to top-up salaries but the candidates are experienced physicians and therefore don’t qualify. 

Bell estimated a salary subsidy would be at most $30,000 per doctor and likely would only be needed during the first few weeks the doctor is working. Any surplus funding would be returned to the township, the letter said.

“I think that anytime you can bring doctors into the region, it’s a good thing,” said Mayor Chris White. “It would almost be negligent of us not to support getting doctors into the community."

“To have a vibrant community, you need to have doctors but I don’t think it should go on the taxpayer,” said Coun. Corey Woods.

White suggested the $60,000 be split between two different reserve funds but Coun. Mark Bouwmeester wanted the County of Wellington to step up too. 

“I wonder where the county is in all this because the county residents would benefit if there’s two more doctors added to the EWFHT,” Bouwmeester said.

White explained the county has put aside $50,000 this year for doctor recruitment in conjunction with the City of Guelph and the township could potentially dip into that but stressed there was no time for delayed action on this due to how in-demand family doctors are right now. 

“It’s a real hustle to try to get doctors into your community and what I want to do is say to the EWFHT that we’re in and we’re going to put this money aside if you need it, don’t worry about us we’re part of the solution,’” White said.

White also noted this money is only being committed in principle and there is no guarantee doctors will come or the funds will even be used in its entirety. 

Coun. Bruce Dickieson was concerned about the bigger picture of responsibilities once again being downloaded to a municipality.

“The trend has been for the federal to cut back to the province and the province to cut back to the municipality … I’m not against this, don’t get me wrong, but this is kind of a dangerous path to go down when we start taking on stuff that technically isn’t our responsibility,” Dickieson said.

The mayor didn’t disagree but said he felt it was too critical to pass up. 

Council unanimously approved the EWFHT’s request.


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Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for EloraFergusToday, covering Wellington County. Keegan has been working with Village Media for more than two years and helped launch EloraFergusToday in 2021.
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