Jack Brezina: Duplication
|By Jack Brezina - Contributing Writer | February 21, 2019|
During the first meeting of 2019, Haliburton County Council gave provisional agreement to fund a part-time physician recruitment position. Like many smaller communities in Canada, Haliburton County has experienced difficulty in attracting family physicians to settle and work here.
The medical community in Haliburton Village has been the most successful, providing a community of colleagues to welcome any new doctors considering relocating. Newly-built offices and a fully- staffed and co-ordinated health team approach makes the Haliburton opportunity attractive to physicians looking for a small-town lifestyle.
For a number of years, a committee supported by the Haliburton Highlands Health Services and the county, did its best to attract family physicians and other health professionals to the county. The group attended recruitment fairs, courted doctors with tours of the area and offered financial incentives for doctors interested in locating here.
The success was limited and enthusiasm for recruitment dwindled until the committee was abandoned in 2016. The recent or pending retirement of several doctors at the Haliburton Highlands Family Medical Clinic has increased the pressure on the county to step into the recruitment effort in a more direct way.
The effort is to be applauded since readily available health care services, starting with family physicians, underpins a growing community that will attract newcomers and new investments.
What was curious about the move was that the councillors, realizing that physician recruitment would likely not occupy an individual on a full-time basis, decided to tag economic development to the job description. The two go together nicely, but the move stands in stark contrast to a decision taken in 2013 to download economic development to the municipal level.
Most municipalities have established someone within their jurisdiction to promote their economic interest. The overlap of economic development provides yet another example of the confusion and duplication created by having two tiers of government looking after our municipal interests.
One can imagine a growing confusion with four lower-tier economic development officers attempting to brighten the future of their jurisdictions. While each of the municipalities has its own attributes to brag about, for anyone unfamiliar with Haliburton County, the four competing and perhaps contradictory or hyper competitive representatives chasing the same investment surely could cloud a potential investor’s impression of the county.
The duplication speaks to the growing awareness that our two-tier, five municipal government structure, is perhaps not the most efficient way to manage, promote and sell Haliburton county to the world. The new County Council should, at the very least, give the concept of a single-tier municipal structure serious consideration and even go as far as to poll the county’s ratepayers on the question.
Physician recruitment is a worthy and necessary undertaking for a municipal government, just as is economic development. They go hand in hand, as county councillors have acknowledged. However, having just one person beating the drum for all of Haliburton County makes much more sense than five officers attempting to accomplish the same goal.
Jack Brezina is a contributing writer for The Highlander.