Residents may get break on doctor search

Agreement includes three year, $18,000 signing bonus.

Sicamous residents may get a break cost-wise in the hunt for doctors.

Last week, municipal council approved a motion to enter into an agreement with Global Medics Ltd., “to conduct a global search for recruitment of doctors” for Sicamous. In addition, council agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Sicamous Medical Clinic for the “recruitment and retention” of doctors.”

Council recently budgeted $30,000 to cover costs for the recruitment of two doctors. Prior to approving the agreement, however, council received a brief presentation by Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin, who offered an alternative means of covering recruitment costs: the CSRD’s Economic Opportunity Fund.

“I’m asking that you would give consideration to take that $30,000 out of the Economic Opportunity Fund. I would definitely support that, because it is a benefit to Area E,” said Martin “Then you would be able to reduce the taxation to the District of Sicamous residents and property owners by $30,000.”

This received a round of applause by council, though that discussion would occur later.

The recruitment contract requires the district to pay Global Medics $15,000, plus taxes, per doctor – half when one is found and the other half when they start work.

Despite budgeting for two doctors, Coun. Malcolm Makayev explained if only one is initially found, that doctor would be mentored at the clinic by Dr. Jack Beech.

“Then Dr. Beech can retire, and then we’ll still have one doctor and recruit a second doctor, so they’ll have that two or three years to have that overlap,” said Makayev.

To improve Sicamous’ odds of attracting doctors, the memorandum with the clinic includes  a series of “physician recruitment lifestyle incentives.” If a doctor is found and begins work in Sicamous, the district has agreed to provide up to $18,000 in housing and transportation bonuses spanning three years. For housing, incentives include: year 1: $500/month; year 2: $300/month; year 3: $200/month. For transportation: year 1: $250/month; year 2: $150/month: year 3: $100/month.

Makayev noted, however, that this incentive package represents a worst-case scenario.

“I believe our town itself will sell the position. This isn’t a guarantee that this money has to be used,” said Makayev, adding the district might also be able to approach the business community for support in the provision of other incentives such as snowmobile and boat rentals, golf memberships, etc.

Later in the meeting, Sicamous Medical Clinic manager Pam Beech explained the Global Medics recruiter they’re working with, Phil Martin. is based in Vernon.

“It’s not in Vancouver, and that is a really good thing for us because it’s very close,” said Beech.