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Doctor recruitment has more leads

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More doctors could be on the way.

Town council heard a verbal update Monday night from Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft regarding the physician recruitment and retention committee, which he said is “very dedicated” and continues to foster possible recruits.

“They're very active in pursuing general practitioners [GPs], general anaesthetists, [and] surgical doctors,” he noted.

“We have at least four general practitioners on the hook,” added Coun. Wiedenhoeft, who sits on the committee along with fellow councillor Wendy Brunetta.

“But we're looking out as far as two and three years in advance because that's how long it takes them sometimes to bring somebody in.”

Coun. Wiedenhoeft also noted the emergency department here needs to be “stocked” on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year—another responsibility of the committee.

“So that's another big job,” he admitted.

“They do use a lot of locums . . . these are doctors right from across Ontario, even out of the province, that come here for a week at a time to make sure that they're stocked,” he explained.

“They're doing a great job. It's a very dedicated committee,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft lauded.

“We're approximately two GPs short of capacity right now but we're working to correct that.”

Coun. Wiedenhoeft attended his first-ever meeting for the committee in December, with his second one this week, and admitted it's going to be “a steep learning curve” for himself.

In other news, Coun. Brunetta plans to continue to advocate for high-tonnage tax rate reform for railway right-of-ways in Ontario.

She said she hopes to pick up the torch once held by former councillor Ken Perry, who blazed a trail on the issue as far back as 2016.

Perry had recognized that Ontario municipalities, including Fort Frances, were not getting their fair share of taxes for having mainline railway rights-of-way located in them—a source of tax revenue that potentially could reap hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the town with a high-tonnage rate in place.

Since then, the municipal tax rate for railway right-of-way property has increased from $35 per acre (equal to $3,600 in railway taxes here) in 2016 to $80 per acre for 2017 (more than $8,200) and then to $110 per acre for 2018 (about $11,300).

“If I am re-elected to the NOMA [Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association] board, I have agreed to take over this file from Mr. Perry,” Coun. Brunetta noted.

“So I have a big learning curve there but it is something that is important to the whole district,” she stressed.

“It is something I am prepared to work on for our communities.”

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