BARRY’S BAY – It was a bittersweet meeting for Madawaska Valley Township council on January 18.
That evening, Mayor Kim Love announced that Andrew Peplinski, the township’s chief building official and fire chief, has tendered his resignation effective January 22.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Peplinski for all of his hard work and for handling the difficult and stressful dual role as Madawaska Valley Fire Chief and Chief Building Official for almost 11 years,” Love announced. “He has been a truly valuable employee whose leadership, dedication and care have helped make the Madawaska Valley Fire Department one of the best volunteer departments in Renfrew County.”
Love added that as chief building official, Peplinski has assisted the municipality greatly, especially through the many years of new development.
“On behalf of council and municipal staff, I wish Mr. Peplinski every success in life and all of his future endeavours,” Love said.
DOCTOR RESOLUTION GAINS SUPPORT
Despite that news, council learnt that its doctor resolution, drafted in April 2015, is gaining the support of hundreds of municipalities across Ontario.
The resolution opposes the income reduction to rural physicians and the loss of the provincially funded incentives to practice family medicine in rural Ontario.
Out of the 444 municipalities in the province, more than 200 have supported the township’s resolution, CAO/Clerk Craig Kelley explained.
“They are rolling in like crazy now,” he said. “I think councillors are finally meeting and discussing this, so it’s very positive.”
On a related issue, council received an email from the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO). It outlines the potential restructuring of primary and public health delivery. One of the major proposals is public health funding will be flowed through the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to the public health units.
While AMO’s focus is the public health units, Mayor Kim Love said the township should be concerned with the delivery of primary care.
“Which is family doctors,” she said. “There are a lot of big changes afoot in healthcare in terms of who will be responsible for what. The funding will still flow through family physicians through the province anyways, but making the LHINs responsible for primary care could result in some difficulties.”
Those potential difficulties could include boundaries. The LHINs have different boundaries, which could affect the hospital’s catchment areas. It might affect a patient coming to St. Francis Memorial Hospital from Hastings Highlands, for example.
However, these ideas are all preliminary and Love said the township needs to take part in the province’s consultation process. She wants to ensure that the township has input on the boundary areas and how primary care is delivered.
“This is very preliminary at this point, but I think when something is preliminary, you want to make sure you are in at the ground floor making sure your concerns are heard,” Love said.
She hopes the Rural Mayor’s Forum will come up with a position on this, which could be presented to the province in the near future.
Councillor Shelley Maika said when more information begins to role out, the township should consult local physicians for their input.
“I think if we have a sense of what our local doctors are thinking about this structure and what they envision, or what concerns they have…that’s what I would like to see, some more boots-on-the-ground input,” she said.
The issue will also be discussed at an upcoming physician recruitment meeting, Love ensured.
“I think this is going to strike a strong chord with municipalities, because it’s pretty hard to exist as an entity if you can’t ensure you are providing family physicians to care for the people and you certainly can’t grow without having that service available,” Love said. “People don’t want to move there if you can’t get a doctor.”
Get your January 20, 2016 edition of The Valley Gazette to read the full story.