WHEREAS poor rural access to many basic health care services forces large numbers of citizens to leave their home areas to seek needed medical care in larger urban areas; and
WHEREAS the “out of market” shopping that often results from this medically driven travel drains enormous sums of money out of rural economies; and
WHEREAS the enormous financial costs of travel to and from medical services represent a substantial financial burden on rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS local rural economies would be greatly strengthened and their long term sustainability enhanced if these medically driven out of region trips were reduced;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties calls upon the Government of Alberta to acknowledge that a lack of accessibility in rural Alberta to many basic health services has enormous negative financial implications above and beyond the human and health costs and that enormous financial hardships caused by this lack of health care services be considered when establishing appropriate medical services for rural communities.
Each year, countless thousands of rural Albertans are literally forced to leave their home area and travel, often hundreds of kilometers, to seek needed medical care on relatively low level and routine medical matters.
In addition to the huge time and financial burden this places upon individuals and families that need this medical care, there is also a huge financial cost to the rural community. The greatest economic challenge many small rural communities face is that vast sums of local wealth is drained out of the community by out of market shopping in the large urban centres. When medical necessity forces additional out of market trips, these extra trips often become incremental shopping opportunities above and beyond the existing “market bleed” that already places a substantial economic burden upon rural and small urban communities. This becomes a self-reinforcing cycle where more and more out of region shopping further damages local retail, further reducing price competitiveness and available selection, which causes yet more out of market shopping…
We call upon the Alberta government to recognize that municipal sustainability for rural Alberta is closely tied to the availability of medical services, and that the economic costs outside the strictly medical sphere be considered when medical services levels are reviewed and established for rural communities.
Resolution 6-12S, 2-10F, 18-09F
The Government of Alberta (GoA) is committed to providing Albertans with adequate and accessible health services. While the GoA acknowledges the financial burden to Albertans who cannot access health care in remote communities and the economic benefit of community health services, the province strives to balance the demand for services with the provision of services in a safe and financially sustainable manner.
In September 2014, the provincial government announced a rural health care action plan which involves a review of health care in Alberta’s rural communities. One of the topics of focus is to understand the link between rural economic development and the provision of health services in rural areas. This resolution remains Unsatisfactory but the AAMDC will monitor the proposed plan for further developments.