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Alberta announces incentives to lure doctors to rural communities

File photo. (CTV) File photo. (CTV)

Starting Tuesday, the province is accepting applications for doctors willing to work in rural communities, and Monday they announced funding incentives to encourage them.

The Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Experiment (RESIDE) is providing $20 million in funding for 20 doctors over the next three years.

In return, doctors will practice in 15 communities already identified as being in need, with another five communities to be named in coming years.

Physicians who set up a shingle in those communities of need will be eligible for $60,000 in undergraduate tuition fee reimbursement, along with bonuses ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the degree of remoteness of a particular community.

To be eligible, physicians must commit to practice in a community for three years.

"RESIDE will be key in attracting new family physicians to bring Albertans in rural communities the health care they deserve," said Health Minister Jason Copping, in a release. "By addressing rural physician recruitment and retention, this $6-million program is another part of our $90-million commitment this year to ensure Albertans have equitable access to physicians no matter where they live."

New Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping takes his mask off to give a COVID-19 update in Edmonton, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The program, which will launch in the fall, is open to all family medicine resident physicians completing residency training who have an interest in practising in rural and remote parts of Alberta.

"People of rural Alberta deserve access to high-quality, sustained, dependable, comprehensive health care in their hometowns," said Payden Spowart and Katrina Taylor, student co-chairs, Family Medicine and Rural Medicine Interest Group, University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine.

"We are excited to be a part of encouraging medical students to explore the many wonderful opportunities that are available within rural medicine in Alberta. We hope this program will help bolster an interest in, and commitment to, rural family practice within the student body and help graduating physicians connect and settle within rural Alberta."


NDP Health Critic David Shepherd issued a statement Monday, saying the new program was an acknowledgement that the last incentive program launched by the UCP in 2020 was a dud.

"After two years of attacking and undermining Alberta doctors in the midst of a pandemic, this latest UCP scheme to undo some of the terrible damage they have caused to rural health care falls woefully short," Shepherd said. 

“Incentive programs are not a new idea but every doctor will have to weigh these dollars against the knowledge that the UCP maintains legislation that allows them to rip up any doctor’s contract on a whim." Top Stories

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