New doctor in Kinmount settling in to busy practice

By William McGinn

Dr. Lesslie Ponraja, of Kinmount.

It has now been three months since Dr. Lesslie Ponraja arrived from England where he was a doctor for 20 years, to Kinmount to take over the duties of retiring Dr. Elana Mihu. Looking back at what it took to get him here, he says he has a lot of gratitude for local efforts.

Ponraja, who invites patients to refer to him as “Dr. Lesslie,” comes from Ashford, England. He was a doctor there for 20 years, 15 as a family doctor and five in a hospital. Mihu joined the Kinmount District Health Centre (KDHC) in 1999 and was the first physician there. Now preparing to retire in the coming years, the centre began searching for her replacement.

Ponraja’s line of work in Ashford had him working 12-hour shifts five to six days a week. He realized he wanted a better work-life balance, and he heard from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario (CPSO) that Ontario was looking for additional family physicians to come practice, especially ones from outside the country.

Ponraja began job hunting and got an offer in April 2022 to practice in Nova Scotia, but he said Halifax doesn’t have direct flights from there to England most of the year and he wanted to feel closer to home, so he looked toward sites near Toronto and got additional offers in London and Whitby before deciding on Kinmount.

“I chose Kinmount because I like the rural area,” said Ponraja. “I like the cottage country. The main attraction was I wanted to be close to the lake because I love fishing, nature and water sports.”

It wasn’t easy to get through the red tape to practice here. First, there was getting Canadian certification, a driver’s license, finding accommodation, and opening a bank account. Then there was getting licensed to practice medicine in Canada, in which he had to get certification of his training approved by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, a license from CPSO, and had to register with the Medical Council of Canada. In addition, he pays a new 25 per cent foreign buyers tax.

Ponraja wasn’t the only one who worked to get himself situated. He explained that the Kinmount District Health Foundation applied to the labour market to get him a work permit as a foreign citizen, plus they had to prove they couldn’t get any local physicians. “Even though they’re a small committee,” he said, “I think they did a great effort in bringing me on.”

He also said MP Jamie Schmale, MPP Laurie Scott, and Mayor Doug Elmslie and other community leaders helped cut through a lot of red tape and shaved off about three or four months of wait time in the process.

Mihu says with Ponraja’s “vast experience and friendly, supportive manner, he is a most welcome addition to the KDHC healthcare team.”


  1. Susan Forrester says:

    Excellent article, William! Thank you for highlighting all the effort it took to recruit Dr. Ponraja. The most ridiculous requirement was the need to submit a lengthy Labour Market Impact Analysis (LMIA) to the Federal Government (with a fee of $1000, plus we had to bear the cost of the required national advertising), to prove that Dr. Ponraja wouldn’t be taking a job from a Canadian doctor. It was a stressful process, but, in the end, it is definitely a good news story for our community. The bonus is that now we understand the intricacies of international physician recruitment, so we are well-positioned to recruit additional doctors. On the morning of August 13th, the Austin Sawmill Heritage Park will be a buzz of activity as we are holding our annual fundraising activity, the Journey for Health.This year, it will be a community celebration with a pay-what-you-can Pancake Breakfast generously hosted by the Kinmount Lions Club and lawn games as well as the fundraising hike. Check out for details.

  2. Yvette Brauer says:

    What a Journey this has been! The Kinmount and District Health Services Foundation KDHSF Board members are to be commended for their hard work in recruiting Dr. Lesslie Ponraja.
    We must also thank the Community for supporting one of our annual Fundraisers “Journey for Health” held the second Sunday in August. Hope to see you there!!

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