Digby town council wants to offer housing and golf memberships to attract doctors.
The district health authority, South West Health, had asked the town for $60,000 for doctor recruitment. That money was to go in with $60,000 from the Digby and Area Charitable Health Service Foundation and another $60,000 from the Municipality of the District of Digby.
Instead the town has formed a committee to come up with a unique incentive package.
Mike Bartlett, Bob Handspiker and Brian Manzer will sit on the committee.
“We’re going to try and design a package that includes more than just money,” says Manzer, the committee chair. “If you have four hospitals handing out cash, then everywhere you go, it’s all the same. We need something unique.”
Manzer wants the town to look at renting a house, holding it and keeping it empty so they could then offer it to a doctor for a year as soon as they wanted it.
“They don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay and getting set up,” says Manzer. “They aren’t going to want to stay in the house we give them long-term but it will give them a chance to look around and find a home in the community.”
Manzer, a rental landlord and property developer, has already, separate from any offer from the town, included one of his properties in an offer to the latest potential doctor.
Any town offer he says would have to look at properties from other landlords.
He figures the town could probably provide housing for a year for $12,000, but if it takes nine months, for example, to find a doctor, then that’s another year’s rental the town would have to pay.
“Still I think it would probably be cheaper for the town and we’re hoping a lot more attractive to doctors,” says Manzer.
The committee will also look at YMCA memberships, golf memberships and what other incentives they can put into a package.
Hospital site manager Hubert d’Entremont responded favourably to the idea when it came up at a special meeting on Monday, Jan. 28.
d’Entremont also asked the town about help with setting up an office for the doctor, but Manzer is cool to that idea.
“We tried setting up an office before, before my time on council, and it didn’t really work,” says Manzer. “We’re building the new clinic and I don’t think we should pay the rent there too.”
Manzer says the committee was to have its first meeting this week and should have the details of a package hammered out to present to council in early March.
Then the town would present their ideas to the District and the Foundation.