Some Sudbury city councillors are wondering if the city's doctor shortage has been solved.

Councillors this week debated whether they still need to offer cash incentives to bring physicians to town.

When Greater Sudbury started offering tax dollars six years ago to entice new doctors to town, it was aiming for a full complement of 115.

It's now about five doctors away from that goal — and some city councillors are wondering about spending that money elsewhere.

City councillor Ron Dupuis pointed out that many others are working the same file, including the hospital and medical school.

"Do we really need to do that with the others doing a lot of the physician recruitment?"

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City councillors from the outlying areas of Greater Sudbury say it's a misdiagnosis to declare the end of the doctor shortage.

‘We’re almost there’

But economic development director Ian Wood said he fears that, with many doctors set to retire in the new few years, the gap could widen again.

"Without any additional dollars, our concern was that we'd start to fall behind."

Councillor Dave Kilgour, who represents Capreol, Garson and Falconbridge, said a family doctor is still hard to find outside of the urban core.

“Capreol has absolutely no doctors,” he said. “The Valley is still two or three short, I believe. So, there's still a desperate need. Doctors into the city are being attracted much more easily than the outside areas."

City councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann urged her colleagues to keep the funding flowing for a few more years, and then officially declare the job done.

"This is the commitment we made when we started this program. We're almost there,” she said.

In the end, council committed $150,000 for doctor recruitment next year, $50,000 thousand shy of what staff were asking for.