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Alberta's government promises funding in an effort to attract health-care staff

The province is rolling out a new plan it hopes will alleviate major health-care shortages in Alberta.

Health Minister Jason Copping announced the Health Workforce Strategy on Thursday.

It's a funding commitment largely built on a promise to renew older financial commitments, but it will see some new ideas brought to the table.

It'll involve a $90-million recommitment in 2023 to strengthening programs that attract and retain rural physicians, an initiative first announced in January 2022.

Health-care staffing in less-populated areas is currently a massive problem.

"It's hard because we don't have a large pool to pull from right now," Bethany Care Society's Jennifer McCue said.

"Outside of the cities, there are too few (potential workers) looking."

Jobs Minister Brian Jean said the province not only wants to bring people from urban areas, but get those who grew up in smaller communities to stay.

The funding will try to make the idea more appealing.

"We will be offering incentive funds for those in health care to practise in rural areas," Jean said.

The Health Workforce Strategy also includes $7 million toward the already-announced recruitment of internationally trained nurses.

It'll go after skilled professionals in the United Kingdom and the United states.


But it's hard to know just how bad the staffing problem is.

The province didn't get into details Thursday about how many workers are needed or where the demand is highest.

Copping said that information will be filled in when the budget is tabled, but it'll first have to be collected from various partners around Alberta.

That tease isn't sitting right with a union representing thousands of health workers.

"They said 'we need more' and 'we need to do better' and while those statements are accurate, how do we measure more and how do we measure better?" Bobby-Joe Borodey with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said.

"Where are the details?"

Critics speculate the lack of specifics may be due to a similar rural attraction initiative falling flat in 2022.

The United Conservative government spent $2 million last year on a program to recruit family doctors to work in rural communities.

"RESIDE" was supposed to place 20 new doctors a year for three years, but less than a year in, only one doctor had been hired.

Copping promises the commitment to improvement is still there.

"We are going to continue to make changes to programs to get the results that we need," he said.

"Some of (the programs) will work, some of them won't. But what's important is actually we continue to evaluate them, and what's not working, we change." Top Stories

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