WHEREAS many rural Alberta municipalities are finding it very difficult to recruit and retain physicians in rural Alberta; and, WHEREAS already-established services of health professionals are critical to the very existence and sustainability of many rural Alberta municipalities; and, WHEREAS the Province created a steering committee to report on why the Alberta Advantage was not stimulating growth outside of the Edmonton – Calgary corridor; and, WHEREAS the steering committee eventually produced Rural Alberta: Land of Opportunity; and, WHEREAS the Province subsequently developed a new rural development strategy; and, WHEREAS the Province outlined this strategy in a document entitled A Place to Grow: Alberta’s Rural Development Strategy; and, WHEREAS the Province made a commitment to make sure rural Alberta is a place to grow, a place to seek new opportunities and a place to build futures; and, WHEREAS the Province established four pillars to achieve these goals through Economic growth; Community capacity, quality of life and infrastructure; Health care; and Learning and skill development; and, WHEREAS the Province stated an action item was to use the current capacity in rural health facilities to provide expanded access to certain surgeries, treatments and unique programs; and, WHEREAS the Province stated an action item was to speed up the process for reviewing credentials of foreign trained health care providers so they are able to work in rural communities; and, WHEREAS the Province stated an action item was to ensure that people in rural Alberta have 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week access to emergency services within 30 minutes of the emergency taking place; and, WHEREAS the Province stated an action item was to review current funding for rural health authorities to address cost pressures in rural communities, remove barriers for people moving across regional health boundaries to access necessary services and ensure there are adequate resources to meet rural Albertans’ health needs; and, WHEREAS the Province stated an action item was to adjust current education and training programs for health care providers to ensure they have experience in rural communities and more is done to encourage them to stay in rural communities; and, WHEREAS the remaining elements of the Third Way include new models of payment for doctors, more specialized treatment centres and better utilization of rural hospitals; and, WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act allows municipalities to pass a special tax bylaw to raise revenue to provide incentives to health professionals to reside and practice their professions in the municipality; and, WHEREAS many rural Alberta municipalities are having to offer incentives such as accommodations, homes, subsidized clinic rent and equipment / furniture purchase to attract and retain physicians; and, WHEREAS there is a disparity in rural Alberta for physicians to reach their earning potential; and, WHEREAS health professional attraction, incentives and retention should not fall on the shoulder of local government policy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties advocate that the Province must accept recruitment, attraction, incentives and retention of Rural health professionals in rural Alberta into their order of government and policy and eliminate that burden from rural municipalities and their tax revenue so that it can be better utilized towards sustainability and local government policy and that the Province in conjunction with the provincial medical association be encouraged to be creative and think out-of-the-box to develop ways and means to reward and compensate rural health professionals so that they desire to practice and stay in rural Alberta.
Resolution 13-05F regarding Attracting Physicians to Rural Alberta urges the Government of Alberta to accept responsibility for all aspects of health care in the Province of Alberta, including the recruitment and retention of health care professionals in smaller centers and rural communities. It also recommends an additional 150 spots be allotted for physicians at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. The government response was that $70 million in investment for initiatives such as the Rural Physician Action Plan to attract physicians to rural Alberta in the last provincial budget.
In April of 2009, Alberta Health and Wellness provided additional information to the AAMDC. Under the Tri-lateral Master Agreement, the Government of Alberta supports many programs, such as the Retention Program, Business Cost Program, Rural Remote and Northern Program, and the AMA Physician Locum Services, which support the recruitment and retention of physicians in Alberta in rural and regional communities. In addition, the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan is dedicated to the task of supporting the recruitment and retention of physicians in Albertas rural communities, and attracting new medical graduates to rural communities. The AAMDC will continue to work with all levels of government to address the need for medical personnel in rural Alberta. Resolutions 11-08S, 24-06F, 23-06F and 12-06F also address this issue.