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AB Government: Modernizing primary health care

Press Release

Alberta’s primary health care leaders and national and global experts are being brought together to identify immediate and long-term improvements to strengthen Alberta’s primary health care system.

Three advisory panels are being established as part of Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) to identify primary health care improvements in the short term and over the next five to 10 years.

“This work will not only help stabilize and strengthen today’s primary health care system, but will identify innovations that can be implemented to meet Albertans’ health needs in the years ahead. Prioritizing health care in the community will lead to a more robust and resilient health system overall.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“MAPS is about building on the strong primary health care foundation that exists in Alberta to create a system where everyone has access to a family physician or primary health care provider, no matter where they live in the province. Modernizing primary health care will also help to ease pressures on our hospitals.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

A strategic advisory panel made up of local primary health care leaders, patients and experts will recommend an overall strategy to improve primary health care. A panel of national and international experts will inform the work of the strategic advisory panel. A panel of Indigenous health experts will ensure Indigenous voices and wisdom is integrated into the initiative.

MAPS will have a particular focus on addressing challenges Indigenous and rural Albertans face when trying to find a family doctor or other primary health care provider. It will also aim to ensure First Nations, Métis and Inuit people have access to high-quality, culturally safe care that is free of racism and respects their unique health-care needs.

“Worldwide the literature is clear, a powerfully performing primary health care sector is an absolute requirement for any sustainable and functional health system. In Alberta, we need to consider both immediate actions to stabilize primary health care, as well as open the door on critical conversations about the future. The MAPS initiative creates a venue and process to provide recommendations on both these fronts. My personal hope is these recommendations can become a catalyst for fundamental and lasting improvements in the delivery of primary health care, with the ultimate goal of improving the care and experience of every Albertan.”

Dr. Brad Bahler, co-chair, strategic advisory panel

“I’m excited for the opportunity to bring my primary health care experiences from around the world to this work. There are many great ideas and innovations from other jurisdictions that can help strengthen Alberta’s primary health care system, so I look forward to hearing about them and bringing them forward.”

Dr. Jennifer Njenga, co-chair, international expert panel

“Access to primary health care is critical for First Nations and Métis, particularly those who live in rural Alberta. I look forward to having the opportunity to bring forward solutions that the government can swiftly act on to address immediate primary health care needs, and to identify sustainable options that improve primary health care in the long term.”

Dr. M. Tyler White, CEO, Siksika Health Services and member, Indigenous Primary Health Care Panel

Working closely with the Alberta Medical Association, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and other primary health care leaders across the province, the panels will address major issues, identify key areas for improvement and recommend both new opportunities and ways to ramp-up existing strengths in the system.

An innovation forum will be held this winter to gather panel members, stakeholders and those involved in primary health care to discuss solutions to current barriers and highlight international and national innovations.

A final report with a recommended strategy to modernize Alberta’s primary health care system will be finalized in spring 2023.

Quick facts

  • Primary health care is the first point of contact Albertans have with the health system, typically in their communities – including with health professionals such as family doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and public health nurses.
  • MAPS will build on the many primary health care successes in Alberta, including the introduction of team-based Primary Care Networks which were introduced in 2003 as the first of their kind in Canada.
  • Primary health care practitioners will be actively engaged across the health system as part of the MAPS work.
  • Panel co-chairs are:
    • Dr. Brad Bahler and Dr. Janet Reynolds, strategic advisory panel
    • Dr. Jennifer Njenga and Dr. Richard Lewanczuk, international expert advisory panel
    • Trish Merrithew-Mercredi, Indigenous advisory panel. The appointment process for the co-chair will be complete soon.

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