Whitby commits to spend $20,000 to recruit more doctors

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Published June 20, 2023 at 3:53 pm

Whitby has committed to spending $20,000 to try to coax more doctors to set up shop in town.

Residents told the town during community engagement for Whitby’s new Strategic Plan that they considered attracting doctors one of their top priorities. Through the town’s survey, thousands of respondents listed “increase access to family physicians” as their second biggest priority for Whitby neighbourhoods.

The choice ranked between Whitby’s long-in-the-works proposed hospital, which Mayor Elizabeth Roy is still waiting to discuss with Premier Doug Ford, and increased crime prevention in town.

To meet the goal, the town is looking to partner with Durham Region, Lakeridge Health, and its sister municipalities, to hammer out a Durham Family Physician Program. This program builds off of the Lakeridge Health and Queens University deal which opened new graduate and postgraduate seats at the university.

The Queen’s-Lakeridge Health MD Family Medicine Program was announced in April, representing a Canadian-first new way to address the ongoing doctor shortage. The program added 14 new undergraduate seats and 22 new postgraduate seats at the university to train family doctors specifically to work in Durham and the surrounding area.

The medical students are trained at Lakeridge Health Oshawa both in classes and for their residency.

Whitby and Durham Region have dedicated resources to helping this program. They are rolling out the welcome wagon for the doctors through a settlement program and planning a Retention, Recruitment, and Incentive Program to keep the doctors around.

The planning work needs to start with a study to determine just how many doctors are needed in the Region and what other communities in Ontario are doing to court them. The town said Durham could start this study by hiring a consultant to put it together and be done by the fall.

The overall cost of the program is expected to be around $215,000 split between Durham Region and it’s constituent municipalities for $20,000 each.

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