Municipalities fighting to protect rural health care

Municipalities fighting to protect rural health care

Rural Municipalities of Alberta urging province to work with doctors on new agreement

Alberta’s rural communities are already getting the “bare minimum” of health care, so the government should not be making changes that would make conditions worse, says the group that represents rural counties and municipalities.

“We have 20 per cent of the population in the rural health care credit area, and only seven per cent of the doctors and only 5.8 per cent of the budget,” the president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta said this week.

“Those are concerns,” said president Al Kemmere in a conference call with Red Deer County council.

Kemmere said his group has had a number of meetings recently with the Alberta Medical Association, MLAs and others to voice communities’ concerns about what they see as a threat to rural medicine.

In February, the provincial government ended its negotiations with the AMA and terminated a master agreement with doctors as of March 31.

A more restrictive funding formula was proposed, which alarmed many rural doctors and the communities they serve.

“With the new model in place, rural clinics could close as physicians move elsewhere,” says background information for a resolution sponsored by Lac La Biche County that will go to the Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s next conference.

The resolution calls on the group to urge the province to reopen negotiations with the AMA, to “mutually arrive at a new master agreement that ensures continued timely access to health care for all rural Albertans.

“Doctors in Lac La Biche County, rural Alberta, and the entire province have serious doubts about the viability of their practices under the new framework. Even under the now-expired framework, it has been especially difficult to attract and retain doctors to rural Alberta.”

Kemmere said his group does not see its role as getting involved in negotiations between the province and health-care providers.

“We’re just emphasizing the fact we need to have everybody realize how important rural health care is,” he said. “It’s one of the key pillars in our communities.

“In Alberta, we already suffer and we already live through a lower level of preventative health care compared to those who live in the urban centres, primarily because of the distances that people have to travel and the fact we don’t have access to the same amount of physicians that they have in the urban centres.”

Last week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro rolled back changes he imposed in March that led doctors in numerous rural areas to announce they would no longer be working in emergency rooms or delivering babies.

A number of communities voiced fears they would lose doctors under the new plan.

Shandro said doctors will once again be allowed to charge for overhead while working in government-run facilities, and he reversed a plan to reduce the provincial contribution to doctors’ medical liability plans.

Ponoka County Reeve Paul MacLaughlin said he spoke in a conference call last week with Environment Minister and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon, Shandro and Rimbey doctors to discuss rural health care concerns.

“I guess the message is that was a very tense meeting,” he said, adding the doctors are leery of the government’s intentions.

“There are some trust issues and some bridge building as we move forward.

“The thing that keeps my community together is the hospital,” said McLaughlin, who is the director for Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s central zone.

“Basically, my message to both those ministers was I want a hospital, I want healthy doctors and I want to make sure my community is safe.”

Red Deer County Coun. Jean Bota said, “this isn’t just about urban and rural.

“This is about the cumulative effect. If the hospital in Rimbey is shut down, then everybody floods to Red Deer or the next community centre.”

“I do think there’s a lot of mistrust between the doctors and the minister.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Doctors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer area seniors facility pauses visits after staff tests positive for COVID

The Hamlets at Red Deer has temporarily put the breaks on visitors… Continue reading

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Alberta confirmed 1,584 COVID-19 cases Sunday afternoon. The total active cases went… Continue reading

Hockey Canada logo at an event in Toronto on November 1, 2017. A “non-core member” of Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team staff has tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Hockey Canada staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

A “non-core member” of Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team staff has tested… Continue reading

A man makes his way across an office tower bridge during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. At least two provinces are reporting new highs for daily COVID-19 infections on Saturday, after the federal government’s latest modelling data showed Canada could see 20,000 cases each day if people keep up their current number of contacts and interactions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 cases keep surging in Canada as four provinces report new one-day highs

OTTAWA — Four provinces reported new highs for daily COVID-19 infections on… Continue reading

Lynn Van Laar, Christmas Wish Breakfast organizing committee chair, said this year’s event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses after responding to a question about the holidays during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau joins G20 in promising COVID-19 aid to poor nations, rejecting protectionism

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined leaders from the world’s 20… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death in Canada has raised the ire of the Canadian Psychiatric Association over the proposed law’s explicit rejection of mental illness as grounds for ending a patient’s life. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental illness in assisted dying-bill slammed by psychiatrists

OTTAWA — The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death… Continue reading

The Quebec flag is seen on the podium as Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday June 3, 2020 in Ottawa. Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in Quebec have boiled over in the past week, with politicians seizing on a Liberal MP’s initial brush-off of the issue as evidence of indifference to a crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Angst around French language boils over in Quebec, as politicians warn of ‘decline’

MONTREAL — Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in… Continue reading

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

VICTORIA — The winds were gusting at 110 kilometres per hour and… Continue reading

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has sponsored the VanVleet Court at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Fred VanVleet signs four-year, US$85-million deal with Toronto Raptors

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet, one of the most coveted players in free… Continue reading

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
‘Hardship is not a new thing:’ Nunavut fights COVID-19 as cases continue to rise

IQALUIT — It has been just over two weeks since Nunavut declared… Continue reading

Pedestrians walk past Pfizer world headquarters in New York on Monday Nov. 9, 2020. Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials,<br>Two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have recently announced they're developed COVID-19 vaccines that are 95 per cent effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Bebeto Matthews
A long way from lab bench to bedside: Virus experts urge COVID-19 vaccine caution

Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials, virologists say… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Most Read