Today, Alberta’s United Conservative Party government announced an investment of $2 billion in health care for the 2023 budget. If passed, this would be the highest amount ever allocated to primary health care in the province. During a news conference on February 21st, Health Minister Jason Copping said these changes are necessary to reduce strain on the health care system.
Copping stated that “the past two years ICU capacity had been maxed out, emergency rooms have been stretched beyond capacity, more and more Albertans are struggling to find a family doctor, and our health care workers have been burning the candle at both ends”.
The government’s news release on February 21st stated that the funding would be directed to primary care networks, payments to family doctors, funding to strengthen and modernize primary health care, and investments to help community-based physicians with information technology systems that will enhance continuity of care for patients. The budget proposes $243 million in new funding over three years directed to primary health care.
The government has accepted the recommendations from Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) “in principle”. These recommendations include providing more patients with a primary health professional, such as a family doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or public health nurse, as well as providing support for mobile health clinics on First Nations and Métis settlements, and addressing the challenges that indigenous people face when accessing primary health care.
Overall, the budget allocation is intended to shift the focus of the health care system to primary care and preventative medicine, in order to make the system less dependent on emergency rooms and ever-increasing hospital capacity.