As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)

COLUMN: Doctors needed, but does the city have a plan?

B.C. obviously isn’t producing enough doctors

Williams Lake city council recently decided to do something about our community’s critical shortage of doctors and other health care professionals.

Councillors hope to meet with the health minister during the UBCM Convention in September, and plan to meet with Interior Health. I’m not sure what results they expect from these meetings. I haven’t heard if they have any other plans for action.

What about a community plan? Scott Tucker of Home Hardware says if the three levels of governments can’t provide doctors for his employees and customers, he surely can put his money where his mouth is. Home Hardware will pledge $50,000 toward a yet-to-be defined recruitment and retention program for doctors.

“Ask others,” he says. “Cheque books will open.”

Will our community leaders take this on? They could establish a committee to find out what the problems are, then find creative ways to fix them. This will take money, but Williams Lake has a good track record for fund raising and Mr. Tucker has made a good start. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce could take the lead. Or a service club? A councillor?

Community members have ideas. Some are wondering if anyone has ever asked the doctors why they are leaving, or why they stay. It’s easy to say they go where they can make more money but there may be other reasons. Poor air quality? Schooling, housing, lack of amenities? 100 Mile House seems to be OK for doctors – what’s their secret?

Another question. B.C. obviously isn’t producing enough doctors. Are there young people in this community who want to be doctors but hesitate because of the education costs? What about establishing bursaries or grants to help them? The community has had doctor shortages for some years. It’s time we were proactive in finding solutions.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian and book author.