The County of Vermilion River approved $5,000 for a one year term in support of the Midtown Medical Clinic in Vermilion during their March 30, council meeting.
As part of their previous Intermunicipal Liaison Committee (ILC) agreement, the funding request had been for a three year term, but the county plans to look at what other opportunities there are for how they can assist with creating healthy communities.
“Two councils before our time came together to make a working together agreement, and the fault lies within not reviewing it properly in order to agree to extend it,” said councillor Stacey Hryciuk.
“Because of the change in our agreements in Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks, the one year does seem logical if we want to make plans for the future that are better than today. Then it gives administration time to come up with answers to our questions, or maybe there’s something even better that can be discovered.”
In the past, this funding came through the County of Vermilion River (CVR) administration and was under the recreation portion of the agreement. Under the new working agreement, it will be put under community services in attempting to streamline things.
The matter was tabled on April 9. After approximately 20 years, the funding motion had three opposed and four in favour so it was carried for one more year.
The town owns the Midtown Medical Clinic building but they no longer manage it, however, they are contributing $10,000 – $100,000 annually. From their 2021 budget, the town is expecting to pay approximately $10,000 to support the deficit for operations of the facility.
Discrepancy from the county was not in the dollar amount supporting the medical community. Many felt that perhaps the clinic would be the ideal choice, but they wanted options for other health organizations or programs to support going forward as alternatives, as well as some from various locations in the county.
Ideas for such alternatives included Thorpe Recovery Centre, Physician Retention and Recruitment Committees both in Vermilion and Lloydminster, mental health initiatives or a piece of medical equipment at the Vermilion Health Centre.
“This is really important – to have doctors in the area, whether they are in Vermilion or Lloydminster,” said CAO Harold Northott.
“If you don’t have doctors here, you’re not going to have more people moving here either.”
Hryciuk said, “The fact that we have doctors is very good. Doctors are one of the keys to rural success, but is this the best use of the money? I can’t answer that unless we explore the alternatives.”
Council carried an additional motion directing administration to bring back initiatives that council can explore for the benefit of CVR residents in 2022. Administration will be looking into alternative health-related items for the future allowing council to review funding options on September 14, prior to next year’s budget.