NDP Leader Rachel Notley says her party’s strategy to undertake the largest health care worker recruitment effort will lead to better health care for rural communities.
“I believe there is no greater challenge facing rural Alberta communities than the chaos in rural healthcare. If we don’t fix this, I fear this will threaten the overall sustainability of rural communities. People will leave and communities will suffer,” said Notley who spoke at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s fall convention on Wednesday.
She listed just some of the obstacles rural Albertans face trying to access health care:
• Stettler, Consort, Sylvan Lake, Boyle, Elk Point, Fairview, and Westlock have had scheduled ER closures in the last six months due to lack of staff.
• No doctors in Peace River are currently accepting patients.
• Hardisty Health Centre has been closed since April 2020.
• One-third of Beaverlodge’s acute care space has been unusable for the past 14 months.
“We need to act now - before these problems get worse,” Notley said.
“We need to trust science and focus on real solutions. Then, we need to restore respect for frontline healthcare workers who have done so much in unimaginable and unprecedented circumstances and add more people to the frontlines.”
Notley said details of the recruitment strategy will be released in the coming weeks and will include ideas to support family doctors and medical professionals move to Alberta.
The strategy will also include new initiatives and targets for training health care professionals within the province, as well as working to remove barriers keeping international grads from practicing in Alberta.