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For ‘newbie’ Councillor Byron Faretis, medical services is a life mission

For ‘newbie’ Councillor Byron Faretis, medical services is a life mission

When Byron Faretis’ late wife died from cancer more than a decade ago, it was despite having ready access to doctors and testing services while the couple lived in Toronto.  Now married to his wife Elaine, who herself was widowed by cancer, Mr. Faretis ran and won election for Brighton Municipal Council in part by promising to help improve access to medical services. “Coping with life threatening disease is hard enough without piling on a long back and forth to get blood work done,” Councillor Faretis said. “I worry about people going through what my wife Elaine and I went through,” Faretis said. “We don’t think anyone should have to go through that.”

One idea: woo the big diagnostic laboratory companies, such as Edmonton-based Dynalabs, to set up shop in Brighton. Councillor Faretis said he is confident of success if council makes the mission a priority. 

The former food and beverage executive and business owner said smaller communities have demonstrated what’s possible with consistent effort. The oft cited example during his campaign for council was Goderich, Ontario, city of 8,000, which has 18 family doctors. Councillor Faretis is leaning on council to form a fact finding delegation to travel to Goderich and learn how a small town on the shore of Lake Huron — more than two and a half hours from Toronto, attracted the medical talent. “I’m not averse to plagiarism,” Faretis said. “Heck I’ll drive!”

Councillor Faretis said he’s enthusiastic about prospects for the newly elected council, which includes four “newbies” who will serve their first four year terms. “What I like about this group is [that] we can have a quiet, calm conversation,” Faretis said. “We don’t always agree on every issue. We can disagree, but no one gets disagreeable.”

Councillor Faretis credits veterans including Mayor Brian Ostrander and the Deputy Mayor, Ron Anderson, with helping him get up to speed. “They encourage me to ask the dumb question I have.” 

Jeff Hutton