Alberta is one of the most urbanized provinces in Canada. Over decades we have seen a massive depopulation of rural areas. As a province we have neglected to ensure and understand that health care in rural Alberta needs to be sustainable and expandable. Since the inception of Alberta Health Services in 2008 we have seen how the cutting of services, closures of rural hospital beds and centralization of services has seriously compromised access to local health care in some rural communities. We have been witness to how centralization has resulted in a lack of timely care and accessibility to services. We have seen a failure to maximize rural facilities and people having to travel long distances to obtain he most basic care such as obstetrics services and primary care.
Availability and accessibility of basic physician services in rural and small urban communities is a barrier to community sustainability and economic development in rural Alberta. Basic health services are essential for the recruitment and retention of a healthy and productive workforce and to ensure the continued growth of our rural communities. This has a direct impact on the viability of a rural community’s workforce and the businesses that rely on this workforce. Without readily available family physicians in the community, individuals are often required to take time off work and travel to larger urban centers with follow-up care often lacking as a result.
FOM supports the recognition of the unique needs of health care in rural communities and we encourage the Ministry of Health to reduce bureaucracy and support meaningful engagement on a community by community basis to meet the specific needs of each community.