FOLLOW TINA AND HER TEAM AS THEY work to CRAFT THE FRAMEWORK FOR A SUSTAINABLE POPULATION GROWTH STRATEGY IN LUNENBURG COUNTY
BY TINA HENNIGAR
If you spend any time online, you’ve seen that Nova Scotians seem to have a lot to complain about. It’s been raining for what feels like an eternity. We don’t all have a family doctor. And don’t get me started on the taxes!
But if we’re going to be negative while the world is watching, we need to be honest, too.
We have the most amazing beaches the world has ever seen. The talent we have is world class. We’re creating tires, airplane parts, video-games, jewelry, beer, and incredible food. And the people- they don’t come any better than our people!
NOW Lunenburg County has been doing this work, growing the population, while shining a spotlight on some of the barriers. So, we have to be positive, while at the same time, be truthful. The back and forth can make a person feel like they’re vibrating.
I was recently a part of a panel of community leaders who are trying our darnedest to create the conditions for people, in particular doctors to create a life they love in Lunenburg County and throughout the province. For me that means I’m baking cinnamon rolls for visiting residents, touring visiting doctors around our community to inspire them and biking 20 km’s during Rural Week to show 3-medical students our beautiful coastline. It also includes baking a carrot cake for a team visiting from Dalhousie Med School in preparation for the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, an initiative that will entirely change the game when it comes to bringing students here and exposing them to life and work in Lunenburg County. The good news is this is all work I love - so doesn’t feel like work at all!
The bad news is that regardless of the effort, if you go online, you’ll read all kinds of comments about why this isn’t working, or that this isn’t the community’s responsibility and other reasons why it’s easier to do nothing. It’s easy to simply complain and criticize those who are trying.
For example, our province recently announced a $200,000 fund specifically for community groups and organizations to help recruit doctors to Nova Scotia. We’ve long been saying that community groups such as NOW Lunenburg County need funds to do this work, and only the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and the Town of Mahone Bay have supported our work. "Doctor recruitment is not the job of municipal government," is what we hear from the rest. But organizing bike rides, touring with and hosting visiting doctors, helping them find rental properties, all that work comes at a cost. This fund could help offset that cost. It could help make sure that NOW Lunenburg County, and others like Now Lunenburg County, can at least get reimbursed for our gas and ingredients. We felt hopeful by the announcement. It’s certainly not going to solve all the issues facing doctor recruitment and retention. It will not address many of the issues that we have no influence over. But it will help us address many of the things we can do and control.
Yet, armchair quarterbacks were quick to comment on how this fund is implying we have to “clean ourselves up” to “attract” doctors. Others suggested that this is a mechanism to evade responsibility so that government can no longer be held accountable. “We gave you money to recruit. If you can’t, well, then that’s on you,” one commenter suggested. And then there is the idea that $200,000 will do nothing to help the situation. And that is where I felt my blood pressure rise.
Tina Hennigar is the population growth coordinator for NOW Lunenburg County.