COLD LAKE – Cold Lake City council voted in favour of starting the legislative process to create a Municipally Controlled Corporation (MCC) with the intention of operating a medical clinic in the community.
City council unanimously voted to direct administration to make available the draft business plan relating to the proposed establishment of a “Primary Care Medical Clinic” as a MCC during a Special Council Meeting held on Dec. 19.
An MCC is a for-profit corporation that is controlled by a municipality, or group of municipalities, for the purposes of providing a regional municipal service or facility.
Currently, it is proposed that the City of Cold Lake will be the only shareholder of the proposed medical clinic.
“This is an unusual move, but it is one that our council felt we needed to make if we are to make meaningful progress when it comes to access to the healthcare system in our community,” said City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland.
“Since 2006, our population has grown by nearly 36 per cent. We knew that we were underserved then, and the issue has been allowed to grow ever since.”
The City of Cold Lake carried out a census in 2022 that also gathered information about residents’ access to family physicians.
The census showed that about 40 per cent of Cold Lake residents do not have a family doctor, while an additional eight per cent of residents have a family doctor outside the community.
About 48 per cent of residents have a family doctor in the community, however, 46 per cent of them said it would take on average, three weeks or more to get an appointment.
“We’ve spent a lot of time and money on physician recruitment and retention, but all of our effort and our taxpayer’s funding has been able to do is maintain the same number of physicians in our community,” acknowledged Copeland.
The intention of the municipally operated medical clinic is to provide physicians with clinic space, staffing and support, and recruit physicians who would like to establish a practice in the community.
The proposal is for Cold Lake Primary Care Medical Clinic Ltd. to be run by a board appointed by City council. It will consist of two elected officials and three members at large.
According to municipal documents, “The Board of Directors will be screened to ensure diverse backgrounds and skills including those in legal and financial services, executive leadership, governance, business, community service, and community development.”
The Board of Directors will also decide how clinic profits are handled.
Any profit from the corporation can be reinvested back into the clinic, directed towards other healthcare initiatives in the community, invested in financial instruments, saved as cash for future use, or returned to the company’s shareholder, the City of Cold Lake, as dividends.
A public hearing has been scheduled for residents and stakeholders to weigh-in on the proposed establishment of the MCC.
The hearing will take place on Jan. 24, 2023, at 6 p.m. in City council chambers.
“If established, the clinic will have a seat at the table when it comes to recruitment and, with the City as its only shareholder, it will maintain its focus on our residents’ best interests,” added Copeland.