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Province investing millions to revamp Alberta's primary care structure

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

The Alberta government says it will be investing millions to improve access to family doctors for all Albertans and tackle many of the challenges facing the province's physicians.

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange made the announcement in Calgary on Wednesday after releasing recommendations that came out of the government's Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative.

"The Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System reports clearly identify the challenges our system is facing, and their release signals this government's commitment to take immediate and ongoing action to support and stabilize primary health care in our province," LaGrange said.

"This is only the beginning. We will keep our sleeves rolled up and work with our partners across the whole health-care system to build a medium and long-term plan."

Six of the 11 recommendations made by the report will be implemented immediately to improve primary health-care services.

Some of those recommendations include:

  • Creating a primary health division in Alberta Health;
  • Investing $57 million over three years to provide family doctors and nurse practitioners with support to boost the number of patients they can handle, with each provider able to access $10,000 per year;
  • Establishing a task force of key partners from the Alberta Medical Association, College of Alberta Family Physicians and the Nurse Practitioners Association of Alberta with the goal of creating a new compensation model and reduce workloads;
  • Expanding online mental health services;
  • Ensuring doctors are paid even if their patients cannot provide proof of insurance coverage; and
  • Introducing a payment system that would allow nurse practitioners to open their own clinics.

Another four of 22 recommendations will be actioned to strengthen Indigenous health-care services, officials said.

Those include:

  • Creating an Indigenous health division within Alberta Health;
  • Setting aside $20 million for Indigenous communities to develop and operate their own primary health care services and projects;
  • Hiring an Indigenous patient complaints investigator to help address concerns First Nations members experience while accessing the health-care system; and
  • Creating a community-based Indigenous patient navigator system.

"Our recommendation provide a clear and stable pathway to create a safe, culturally appropriate primary health-care system that include Indigenous Peoples as partners, and I believe the commitments made today are an important first step toward improving health equity for Indigenous Peoples, regardless of where they live," said Naa Taoyi Piita Wo Taan, Dr. Taylor White, CEO of Siksika Health Services and chair of MAPS' Indigenous panel.

Full details, including the final reports from MAPS are available online. Top Stories

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