Updated: Oct 20
This was a community question.
Municipalities across Ontario are struggling with a healthcare crisis, not enough doctors or health facilities.
This is not something new and municipalities have been taking what action they feel they can, even before COVID.
Many municipalities have developed recruitment packages to help attract physicians. Some offer interest-free loans, housing subsidies, tuition reimbursement, clinic rent subsidies, childcare options and even office space with staff, furniture, and equipment. Municipalities can also work with non-profit health clinics to provide even greater financial support.
Hamilton municipality has an Incentive Program to Recruit Physicians to the City. The staff from their Planning and Economic Development Department has been directed by council to continue working with area stakeholders (i.e. Academy Medicine) to create additional clinics to attract new physicians and (b) That the City of Hamilton designates $10,000 from the 2009 Physician Recruitment Program budget to assist in the cost of community visits by potential new physician recruits. Seen in other municipalities, Council can also direct that ongoing costs for physician recruitment community visits be covered.
The City of Hamilton met with Members of the Provincial Parliament, local stakeholders, and Ministry staff to develop a program similar to the pilot program awarded to the City of London to address the shortage of their physicians. As Mayoral candidate Pfenning said in the Ward 2 debate, it is literally the job of the council to actively engage with and bring issues to all levels of government on behalf of local residents.
Council has a hand in reviewing land zoning which wouldn’t only require clinics but also affordable housing and daycare spaces in new developments. There are always options to negotiate with developers to give lenience for certain aspects in exchange for them to build spaces needed by services/businesses. Municipalities could also work with landowners for properties that are set for additions or redevelopment and encourage them to build in space for needed services.
In Baden, we have seen how access to adequate office space has actually led to family doctors deciding not to move their business there.
A mayoral candidate in another municipality states as part of her platform that permissive taxes and benefits for not-for-profits and co-ops for family physicians as well as other healthcare workers, like nurses, nurse practitioners, and support staff would be beneficial.
These are all topics that need to be discussed in-depth with current staff. Council directs staff but the staff is in charge of long-term development. Our staff can only take on so much work.
If elected I do believe we need to look at all the various services and amenities our community needs in order to better create whole neighbourhoods where everyone has access to what they need.