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Amherstburg Mayor, Deputy Mayor prompt report on regional health care

Updated: May 10

Initiated by Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb and Mayor Michael Prue, the County of Essex has taken a step towards addressing the region’s health care crisis.

Back in November, Gibb and Prue put forth a notice of motion to have the county look at ways to examine closely the health care needs in Essex County. It was a follow-up to the fact that the county is no longer funding a physician recruitment position.

The county received a report from CAO Sandra Zwiers during its regular session last Wednesday night, that, among other points, questioned what other levels of government can do and perhaps for the county to look into reintroducing suspended services (such as the recruitment position).

“On behalf of Amherstburg town council, I want to thank county council for allowing this to be brought forward,” said Gibb.

Gibb thanked the county’s administration for bringing forth a comprehensive report, adding, “providing health care for the region is a much bigger picture than physician recruitment.”

Prue said that Amherstburg is in the process of determining whether or not to expand the town’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to include doctors and nurse practitioner offices and that the county is considering matching local municipal funds for the program.

“I think it would go a long way for most of the towns to attract additional medical facilities,” said Prue.

As part of her report, Zwiers noted that health care is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments and that any decision to expand service delivery of the county’s current services should be weighed carefully.

Essex County now is responsible for its paramedic (EMS), long-term care facility (Sun Parlour Home in Leamington) and Housing with Support services.

“We can all appreciate that health care is a complex topic that is a multi-faceted question that does not have an easy answer,” Zwiers said to county council.

Zwiers added that mental health and addictions are at an all-time high in the area and no matter where you are in Canada, there is a shortage of doctors. "We have an aging population.”

LaSalle Mayor Crystal Meloche said that in her town it is estimated that 10,000 residents, one-third of the population, is without a primary-care provider and whether or not the county could identify the areas that are in most urgent need.

In her report, Zwiers noted that according to a study commissioned by the Ontario College of Physicians, 2.3 million people in the province are without a primary-care provider.

Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy said that perhaps the province which wants municipalities to build more houses faster, could also contribute more to the health care situation. Amherstburg Mayor, Deputy Mayor prompt report on regional health care

By Fred Groves

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