An executive at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre says the hospital is pursuing extra funding to help pay for temporary emergency room doctors.

Dr. Stewart Kennedy said the undisclosed amount from the province will help provide incentives to get locums to travel to Thunder Bay to work.

“We follow the Ontario ministry guidelines, and they have an incentive program or a locum program that is available to all physicians,” said Kennedy, who is the hospital’s executive vice president of medical and academic affairs.

Doctors on locum receive the same pay rate as staff emergency room physicians. Thunder Bay's health sciences centre is no different from other hospitals when it comes to recruiting fill-in doctors, Kennedy said. However they also receive some incentives to make the journey to Thunder Bay.

“We pay their travel, we pay their expenses, but when they're working alongside our ER doctors, what they get paid is dependent upon the volume of patients they see, and the acuity of the patient,” he said.

Kennedy said extra funding is needed at hospitals across Ontario to help bridge gaps in emergency room scheduling.

He didn’t specify how much money the hospital is seeking from Health Force Ontario, the agency that oversees the province's health human resource needs.

A total of five ER doctors are supposed to start in July 2014, with another five starting in July 2015.

This year a third of the Thunder Bay hospital’s ER staff are retiring or relocating, creating the “perfect storm” in terms of staffing, Kennedy said.