A Seat At The Table

Interview with Dr. Brock McGregor, ND, a Municipal Councilor and Chair of the Public Health Board in Chatham-Kent
By Published On: July 8th, 2024

Interview with Dr. Brock McGregor, ND, a Municipal Councilor and Chair of the Public Health Board in Chatham-Kent 

If we truly want to advance the profession of naturopathic medicine, one of the most important places for NDs to be active wherever there is policy decisions being made. Early on in his practice, Dr. Brock McGregor felt there was a need for change in his small municipality of Chatham-Kent and decided to get involved.  He has been involved in municipal politics for the past nine years and is currently a Municipal Councilor and Chair of the Public Health Board. In this interview, Dr. Brock shares his journey into politics and offers advice for doctors who are interested in getting involved in their local municipal governments. 

Q: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with our members.  What inspired you to get involved in your municipality? 

Dr. Brock: At the time, Chatham-Kent was facing challenges with lack of growth and high unemployment. I saw an opportunity to get involved and make a difference. As naturopathic doctors, we have that working knowledge and awareness of things like the social determinants of health, of the importance of a thriving environment and the barriers to health.  We address those things every day in our practices and these are also the things that create healthy communities. I wanted to raise my family in a community that was working towards that kind of future. Getting involved at the level where policies are made was the best way to influence those important decisions. It’s been a great opportunity to network and most importantly to influence policy so we can build healthier communities. 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your experience in municipal politics? 

Dr. Brock: I’ve been a Municipal Councilor in Chatham-Kent for the past nine years. As part of that role, I’m also the Chair of the Chatham-Kent Board of Health. I’ve been involved in various roles with the municipality, including as the chair of the Municipal Budget process and a commissioner on the Public Utilities Commission. Prior to getting involved it was clear to me there were a lot of younger adults, people with young families who saw a different vision for our community and so 2014 I decided I would put my name in for election.  I think there were 23 people who ran for 6 spots that year.  In a smaller municipality like this, we have under 150,000 people, there is opportunity to get involved even if you don’t have financial backing. I went out and knocked on doors and did events and really got out there and was fortunate enough to get elected that year. Since then I’ve been re-elected twice.  My involvement has grown and changed over the years as I’ve gained experience and it has been really rewarding.  It can be demanding with respect to time commitment, but I have found it to be a great addition to my clinical practice.  It’s nice to have something I am passionate about outside the clinic, but I love that I can leave the politics in the board room when I’m with my patients.   

Q: In the last provincial election, you were nominated as the NDP candidate for your community and ran a great race and close race with the PC candidate.  

Dr. Brock:  Yes, as politics goes, once you are part of it, more opportunities present themselves. I do believe that with involvement comes a responsibility you have to advocate for things that you believe in.  For me, I was really concerned about the direction the province was heading, in particular, the way that we support vulnerable people in our communities. I don’t think the direction that we are heading in provincially is consistent with a province and communities that care about each other. Already being involved at the municipal level, I took the opportunity and I talked to some people in the NDP and the platform at the time felt really meaningful. I thought, and still think, the policies we put forward could make a difference in the province. I went ahead with that nomination process and went out on the campaign trail.  It was a tough election in Ontario, but overall a good experience and unique opportunity to talk to people in my community.  I had so many conversations about what impacts people’s lives and it reinforced just how strongly those policy decisions and legislation impact people in our communities.  I really believe that if we don’t have people stepping up and trying to design policy and make changes that are going to benefit everyone, especially our most vulnerable, we are going to see the continuation of increases in poverty and worsening housing affordability crisis and detrimental changes in health care – and that, at the end of  the day, we are going to continue to impact the most vulnerable and widen inequities in our province. 

…there is a growing recognition of the importance of health and wellness in municipal politics. As naturopathic doctors, we have a unique perspective to offer and can play an important role in shaping these policies.

Q: What advice would you give to doctors who are interested in getting involved in their local governments or in policy making groups? 

Dr. Brock:  Like any profession, we have NDs who run the gamut of the political spectrum and a great place to get started is investigate party platforms and find one that aligns with your values. You can volunteer in a variety of capacities. It provides the opportunity to be out and have meaningful conversations with community members and you also get to learn about how policies and governance work.  There are many opportunities to get involved in local politics, from attending city council meetings to serving on committees and of course, running for office. Across Ontario and in every municipality there are opportunities to be a part of boards of health, or committees of adjustment, or active and healthy lifestyle committees and many others depending on where you are.  Those committees make important decisions that impact our communities and they all need people to make them work.  I think it’s also important to recognize that we have specialty and skills that go beyond just that health scope too, so many of us are small business owners, parents, and educators. We bring a lot to the table and can offer important perspective.  There are lots of opportunities outside of the direct political ring as well, things like the board of local chambers of commerce or charities and NGOs. All those organizations do valuable work in our communities and offer the chance to network, learn about policy making and governance and of course, the opportunity to bring awareness to and promote health principles.  It’s important to find an area that you’re passionate about and to get involved.  All of these things run on the strength of volunteers and need people who are knowledgeable and passionate to step up.  

Q: How has your experience in municipal politics influenced your work as a naturopathic doctor? 

Dr. Brock: Being involved in municipal politics has given me a greater understanding of the social determinants of health and the impact that policy decisions can have on the health of a community. It’s also helped me to build relationships with other community leaders and to advocate for policies that promote health and wellbeing.   I think there is a growing recognition of the importance of health and wellness in municipal politics. We’re seeing more communities adopt policies that promote active transportation, access to healthy food, and other initiatives that support healthy living in our communities. As naturopathic doctors, we have a unique perspective to offer and can play an important role in shaping these policies. 

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Written by : TL Reside