Medical recruitment proving costly in Wellington North

When it comes to recruiting medical professionals, it is becoming clear that good recruiting does not come cheaply.

A recruitment report was presented to Wellington North council late last month. It proposes a budget of almost $100,000 for 2009. Of that, roughly 40% is for part-time re­cruitment support.

The group is asking for yet another hefty hike in support from the municipality at $15,000. Similar support is being sought from the municipalities of Mapleton and Minto. North Wellington Healthcare has been allotted just over $45,300 to support the recruitment efforts.

Councillor Dan Yake said the report noted the difficulties across Canada regarding doctor recruitment. Basically, he said, it’s just a report so council is aware what is going on, and funds are still being sought to continue their work. He added the item will likely come up again during budget talks.

Councillor Ross Chaulk said his question, as in the past, “was whether we should even be paying for something that is a provincial responsibility.”

But, he added, if the township does pay, it should not be as high as the group was asking because it based its numbers on the total population of Wellington North, when in actuality, a great number of residents in the southern part of the township “go down to Fergus.”

He believes the numbers council received are “some­what skew­ed just to arrive at the numbers they want.”

At the same time, he added that he does not believe Well­ington North had ever provided support to a similar recruitment campaign in Fergus.

“Just keep that in mind at budget time when we’re discussing this,” Chaulk said.

Mayor Mike Broomhead noted the motion before council read that it would be discussed as part of the 2009 budget process. However, he said that during the 2008 budget, council had a heck of a time coming to a consensus when the group asked for $10,000.

Two years ago, council had chosen to split the donation to $5,000 over two years.

“This year they are asking for $15,000.”

Broomhead agreed with Chaulk that a decision reflects a provincial problem. How­ever, “It comes down to that this is so important to our community … We need to support it,” Broomhead said.

He said council at least needs to take it to the budget meeting and come up with a decision one way or the other.

Yake did not disagree with it being a provincial issue. “The fact of the matter is, if you are waiting for the pro­vince to fund it, it’s not coming,” he said.

He explained that for years council has accepted increases to conservation authority levies “and just pay it … just like that.”

Ultimately when those who handle the purse strings make a decision, that amount may not be available in the budget, he added. The terms might need to be different, he said.

“They’ve thrown out a number … We need to discuss it,” Yake said.