Cold Lake Sun readers expressed concern about the limited access to Cold Lake doctors and other medical professionals in Cold Lake, such as psychologists.
We asked the 10 city council candidates if there anything they feel the city could be doing more of when it comes to this issue.
Larry Ashcroft: To attract professionals to our community, we need to make the city attractive for doctors and their families. We need to create a good work environment with proper resources and equipment, and amenities in the community. Remember, the new doctors have spent several years in the city (for their training). I think the community, with the support of the city council, has been working hard at this.
Bob Buckle: This issue of lack of family physicians and specialists has plagued our community since I have been on council. As a mayor and council, we have had multiple meetings and discussions with the Minister of Health, the Alberta Health Services Executive, doctors and hospital staff over the years. All are acutely aware of the situation; however, few improvements have been made. Though this is outside the mandate and authority of city council, we have over the years supported the start up of the Hearts for Healthcare, which have done great work trying to recruit new doctors into our community. It will likely make it harder to recruit and its something we as municipal leaders will need to pay close attention to.
Chris Hiebert: Supporting existing organizations, like “Hearts for Healthcare, will go a long way, but the issue goes far beyond their scope. City council will need to be actively engaged with the provincial government to secure further funding to recruit and hire qualified healthcare professionals.
Lorie Jacobsen: We need to keep yelling. I encourage our citizens to keep writing to the provincial government. This issue is close to my heart and we need to keep supporting Hearts for Healthcare as our best advocate. As we continue to develop our city we become more attractive to those professionals. I want to work with council to find ways to improve access now, not later.
Duane Lay: I will work with city administration and Hearts for Healthcare to lobby Alberta Health Services to fund more doctors and medical specialists. We would like to work towards Cold Lake becoming a regional medical center.
Vicky Lefebvre: We (the previous city council) are working with Alberta Health Services, Hearts for Healthcare and community services to try and address this problem. We understand the need and have been lobbying for help. (Psychological) services are provided through our Family and Community Support Services and Alberta Health Services and some non-profits. There is not a quick easy fix and nothing works quickly with the government. It is a sometimes frustrating and takes a lot of patience. No pun intended. There is a line to be drawn as to how much a city should fund and whose responsibility is it. With government downloading costs to the city where do we stop?
Kirk Soroka: Healthcare is a provincial matter, so the first thing we need to do is be a loud and persistent voice in the legislative assembly to ensure our needs are clearly understood. Secondly, we need to incentivize these medical professionals to invest in the community and establish roots here. This can be done by helping them set up practice through financial tools like subsidized rent, operating leases for equipment, zero interest loans and municipal tax credits for limited periods of time. We want to entice doctors by removing all of the initial barriers that prevent them from moving to Cold Lake and staying in our community. The worldwide competition for healthcare professionals is fierce. We need to make a serious commitment.
Chris Vining: We (the previous city council) have worked very hard with both our local doctors and Hearts for Healthcare to see what we can do to make Cold Lake a destination for more doctors and healthcare professionals. I think we have been very successful in helping bring more diagnostics and other services that people used to have to travel to obtain. Mental health access has been a frustration of mine in both my role as an educational leader and a community leader. There is a gap that Alberta Health Services doesn’t seem to have the will and resources to fill. However, there is also a role for federal government to get involved seeing as we are hearing about more former Canadian Armed Forces members in our community struggling with PTSD, for example. We need to continue to lobby the province and Ottawa to come together to create a Cold Lake solution.
Cold Lake Sun
Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:55:27 MDT PM