By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County has committed to allocate $15,000 to aid in physician recruitment in the County and south zone.
With the shortage of family doctors leaving many patients without a family doctor in the south zone, a partnership between the City of Lethbridge, the AHS south zone and the Chinook Primary Care Network, City of Lethbridge representatives reached out to consult with the County to join in on the marketing effort.
Following a delegation on July 7 with Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, deputy mayor for the City of Lethbridge and Sandra Dufresne, City of Lethbridge intergovernmental and advocacy advisory, County council directed administration to conduct more research and provide a report at a later meeting. At the Aug. 4 regular County council meeting, council voted in favour of making a $15k commitment for marketing and advertising for physician recruitment in the region.
Manager of Finance and Administration at Lethbridge County, Jennifer Place, subsequently met with Dufresne to discuss how the county would fit into this partnership.
“We discussed the recruitment request in a bit more detail,” Place said. “(Dufresne) stated in conjunction with other contributing parties, the City wanted to see Lethbridge County join their efforts in a regional approach towards targeted marketing for physician recruitment.”
The $15k figure is based on the City’s own $15,000 commitment to the program.
“They wanted a matching amount, however, those funds are kept within the County’s control; it is just a commitment to designate it specifically for this type of recruitment,” Place explained.
In addition, the City of Lethbridge has offered to make all current marketing materials available to the County as well.
Reeve Tory Cambell said, “this has been a very big issue with economic development Lethbridge as well and is regularly on our meeting agendas,” and added the region as a whole is struggling to attract and retain physicians. “We have the opportunity to direct those funds to some targeted advertising (…) We don’t have the doctors, but our residents need them and I think it is something that we advocate on behalf of even though we don’t directly provide that service.”
Coun. Eric Van Essen voiced concern over the $15,000 figure and said, “Basing the number off of the City of Lethbridge is, I don’t think, fair. They have a population 10 times (more than) us. If we commit 15k, we’re putting far greater amount (of the municipality’s overall budget) than they would be.”
Coun. John Kurbis chimed in: “I understand we don’t have physicians or a place for physicians to actually put up shop, but keep in mind that Lethbridge County is a wonderful place to live and physicians who are going to come to either the city or the smaller urbans, making sure they know there is available spots for them to reside is an important issue.”
Kurbis sponsored a motion to allocate $15k for marketing and advertising geared toward physician recruitment for the region from the tax equalization reserve. The motion was carried.