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HUMANS OF SARNIA: Marilyn Gifford

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The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of  everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook

Meet Marilyn Gifford: A Champion for Change

By Art Connolly

In the heart of Point Edward, “under the bridge,” you’ll often find Marilyn Gifford – a woman on a mission. With her clipboard in hand and a bold apron declaring. “This old lady needs 1000 signatures,” Marilyn approaches passersby with a gentle smile and a determined purpose. Her mission: to save lives through a petition.

Marilyn’s mission is nothing short of visionary. She addresses one of our most pressing issues – the healthcare crisis in our community. Armed with a firm belief that we need heroes to enact change, Marilyn’s focus is clear: open more residency programs for fully qualified Canadian Physician graduates. The shortage of doctors in Ontario is undeniable, evident in the daunting wait times at hospital ERs.

Marilyn sheds light on a solution that, in its simplicity, could revolutionize healthcare. With a surplus of Canadian and Permanent Resident Medical Graduates whose education is already funded, her proposition is straightforward: expand residency programs to accommodate these qualified home-grown graduates.

Beginning her crusade in October 2022, this is not Marilyn’s first foray into community service. She volunteered at the Sarnia Distress Line for seven years and even possesses a 3D printer at home, crafting medical prosthetics. Today, her focus is on healthcare. She emphasizes that in Sarnia-Lambton, 41,000 people will lack access to doctors in as little as three years – a situation she deems unnecessary.

Marilyn proposes a pilot program to host a residency program in Sarnia-Lambton, projecting the potential for 15 new doctors over five years with just three residency placements per year. Marilyn sees this as a community issue, not a political one, asserting that raising our collective voice will drive change. Her dedication has garnered support, with local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Bob Bailey bringing the issue to Queens Park. She has spoken before Lambton County Council who unanimously endorsed her endeavour.

Last November’s Ontario budget allowed 50 new placements here in Ontario. Marilyn is only asking for three of those per year for five years.

Sitting with Marilyn, her fervour is palpable. But she knows change isn’t a solo effort. Marilyn seeks volunteers to join her cause, inviting all who share her passion to reach out. If you can help by volunteering, contact her at [email protected] and consider signing her petition here.

Marilyn’s call for a hero has been answered – she’s the hero Sarnia Lambton needs.

Art Connolly

“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.

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