‘Staff shortages nothing new’

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro responded June 16 to criticism by the NDP Official Opposition and media reports of staff shortages at Alberta hospitals.

The media reports involved Alberta Health Services staffing challenges in Fairview, Boyle, St. Paul, Elk Point, Rocky Mountain House, and Westlock.

“Staffing challenges are not new to rural Albertans, who are familiar with the longstanding challenge of recruiting doctors to their communities,” says Shandro.

“Unfortunately, CO- VID-19 has hit us hard. Doctors are not immune to the virus and have become sick themselves or have had to quarantine with loved ones. This has reduced the number of doctors who travel to fill shifts that would otherwise go unfilled.”

Shandro adds the increased vaccine supply will help curb the problem.

“Vaccine supply has increased and the virus is receding along with the threat it poses to front line medical staff,” he says.

“This will lead to a more stable healthcare workforce in rural Alberta in the coming weeks.”

However, he realizes the need to recruit more physicians is ongoing.

“Recruiting new physicians is a major priority for our government and we are working hard to do just that.

“Last year, funding for rural doctors was increased by $90 million. AHS has been directed to increase the hiring of Canadian and foreign trained doctors.”

Another $6 million is earmarked to help pay for medical school if students agree to complete their training in a rural community in Alberta.

“We are starting to see the benefits of this investment. Over the last year, doctors have been recruited to Barrhead, Cold Lake, Whitecourt, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, St. Paul, Valleyview, McLennan and Falher.”

Shandro is confident that continued efforts will see more announcements of successful recruitments throughout Alberta in the coming months.

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