Editorial: Ramara Council Says No To Doctors

Welcome Mike Douglas as a Ramara Township contributor

By Mike Douglas

The decision by the Township of Ramara council not to reinstate the annual $8,000 funding for the shared Orillia and Area Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee is disturbingly short sighted.

It does not represent a well thought out approach to local health care. Each council member must recognize that they are responsible for the overall health and wellbeing of Ramara Township residents, which includes working to achieve equal access to local health care. The $8,000 was originally arrived at based on past township funding to support physician recruitment for the entire area, with Orillia as the hub.

Any implication the $8,000 was specifically intended to only support attracting a doctor to the medical center in Brechin is a misrepresentation. The contribution from Ramara to this joint community venture is equivalent to approximately $1 per Ramara Township tax payer. The previous annual expenditures of $8,000 was very well spent when taking into consideration this funding has been a significant factor connecting 1,800 residents to medical practitioners over the last 7 years according to Pat Thor, the committee’s Community Physician Recruitment Liaison.

Today’s physicians tend to work in medical groups for several reasons, thus very few graduating physicians are willing to come to Orillia and Area and are more inclined to share a building and common resources. These physicians however, are for the most part located in Orillia. With the combined financial support from Oro-Medonte, Severn, Orillia, Rama and whatever Ramara can come up with we stand a better chance of locating and attracting quality healthcare into our area, with Orillia as the hub.

We have all heard the phrase “pull your own weight” from our farming history where beasts of burden were yoked together and the entire team was responsible for doing its share. Obviously, it was possible to hang back and let others do the lion’s share of the work. Health care is a must for all communities and Ramara Township needs to pull our own weight where the burden of Physician Recruitment and Retention is concerned, just as the other communities in the area have committed to doing. As Pat Thor, said, “Any time we recruit a new doctor to our area the residents of Ramara benefit.”

If the current council’s primary purpose is to focus on eliminating the waste of rate payer’s money and they believe accessibility to health care is an area that needs to be eliminated, then a re-evaluation of Ramara Township’s fiscal priorities and responsibilities is needed. Health care isn’t an area of civic responsibility that can be adequately or properly managed unless it is recognized as a long-term, ongoing commitment.

Of course, Ramara Township tax payers don’t want council to waste our money, however council members are also given the responsibility to represent the best interests of the residents. Approving ongoing fiscal support of the Orillia and Area Physician Recruitment and Retention program and pulling our own weight can not in any way be argued as fiscally irresponsible when it is only costing us a dollar per registered taxpayer.

Not participating in collaborative health care initiatives compromises the pursuit of well-planned development for any community, including Ramara Township. Doing nothing to address the shortage of rural physicians is pretty much guaranteed to produce exactly nothing. 

The Concerned Citizens of Ramara (I am a member) is addressing this challenge and set up a Gofundme account to raise as much of the township’s former annual commitment and give the proceeds to the physician recruitment committee. Those who believe being able to see your own doctor, or when you need a specialist, and not have to drive to Barrie or Toronto, can contribute online here.

(Photo by rawpixel – Pexels)


Mike Douglas is a Ramara resident of 25 years. He follows township council meetings and happenings closely and will contribute to SUNonline/Orillia on those matters. And, as a member of several environmental groups like Concerned Citizens of Ramara, Ontario Soil Regulation Task Force, AWARE Simcoe, Couchiching Conservancy, Ontario Nature, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and Environmental Defense he will be sharing his insight on environmental concerns.

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