A Neighbour’s Great Query on Attracting Health Professionals to the County

I had an email from a Picton resident, Alexandra, recently with a number of questions for candidates in Ward 1. Rather than respond to just one person in an email, I thought I could post my answers here. Thank you Alexandra for the question(s).


First of all, this is a great question because Alexandra refers to medical staff, not just family doctors. And as I touch on below, if we are not a healthy community the ripple effects into other issues are significant.

  1. We have to be competitive in the bursaries we pay to young doctors compared to other communities. Young doctors are graduating with higher debt loads than ever – one of the reasons they are drawn to specialties rather than family practice.
  2. I read an opinion piece (more below from that) which noted that 25% of family doctors’ time is spent on administrative tasks. Can we help free up our doctors’ time in the family health unit by contributing to funding for admin support?
  3. Can we beef up our local health professional teams with nurse practitioners? Could we provide grants for local nurses retraining as NP’s?
  4. Does our new hospital present an opportunity to devise a new “best practices” in referral processes for tests, specialists and services, another drag on physicians’ time
  5. Can we consider dedicated affordable rental accommodation for newly arrived family doctors in the community – say for 3-5 years – until they get on their financial feet?
  6. And we have to think about a younger doctor moving here whose spouse may need support for a career transition. Eg. work from home technology support?

A young doctor moving here with a young family may well be concerned about a waiting list for child care in the County that already has 155 children on it.  Parents care about schools. The municipality should be working more closely with school boards to improve outcomes in our high schools where only 76% of students graduate compared to 87% in the province at large. And providing support to our schools may help some of our young people with the mental health concerns identified by the County Foundation.

A joint editorial was published in September by the incoming President of the Ontario College of Family physicians and an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa and PhD candidate in family medicine at Western University.  Some key points they made I found a bit hair raising frankly:

  1. 1.8 million people in Ontario do not have a regular family doctor and that number is expected to hit 3 million in three years
  2. If patients don’t have a family doctor they go to emergency wards – now think about the impact of this on our new hospital
  3. Fewer medical students are choosing family medicine
  4. Ontario’s population is aging and older patients need more complex health support

The recent Vital Signs Annual Report from the County Foundation illustrated how health issues interact with other community issues.

  1. Only 83% of people in our community have a family doctor compared to 93% in the province generally
  2. We expect to see 10 family doctors in the County retire between 2023 and 2026 according to the Prince Edward Family Health Team
  3. Only 1 in 2 young people in Canada (and data is similar in the County) describe their mental health as “good” in 2021,  in part driven by after effects from COVID
  4. 33 per cent of the County’s population is over 65, with a median age of 56.8 years, 15.2 years more than the median age for the province generally
  5. The OPP reported a 17% increase in mental health related incidents last year compared to the 7 year average
  6. Opioid related deaths were up 75% in 2020 compared to 2019
  7. Food insecurity is exacerbated by the lack of affordable housing and people are choosing between buying food and paying the rent, which in turn will have a feedback loop into their health.

This is part of why I see being a Councillor as a full time job.

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