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Oct 18, 2023
Alberta’s government is stabilizing and strengthening primary health care across the province so that everyone can access care when and where they need it.
Primary health care is the first point of contact Albertans have with the health care system, and includes health professionals such as family doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Last fall, health care leaders, Indigenous partners and experts from across Canada and around the world came together to form advisory panels as part of the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative. The panels identified immediate, medium- and long-term improvements to strengthen Alberta’s primary health care system.
Alberta’s government will begin moving forward on the recommendations in the final report to improve access to primary health care for all Albertans. The recommendations will be implemented through a phased approach, with several moving forward immediately, followed by medium- and longer-term improvements that will enhance community-based primary health care across Alberta.
“Today marks an important step in the work I am undertaking to enhance primary care as the foundation of our health care system. The Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) 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. I look forward to the ongoing work of implementing needed changes with our health care partners and providers.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health
Several immediate actions are being taken, all of which are consistent with recommendations from the panels. These actions are critical to ensuring Albertans have better access to health care when and where they need it. Alberta Health continues to work toward implementing recommendations over the medium and long term.
“The MAPS recommendations represent a huge leap forward for our primary health system – strengthening and clarifying governance, community involvement, and recognizing the importance of integrated team-based care that allows Albertans to access primary care from the most appropriate team member at the right time, in the right place. This is how we can ensure equitable access to care across our province.”
Dr. Janet Reynolds, co-chair, MAPS strategic advisory panel
Strengthening primary health care
Alberta’s government is acting immediately on recommendations to improve primary health care and increase Albertans’ access to the medical care they need, including:
“We know that a strong primary health care system is foundational for better health care for Albertans, and that starts with access to a family physician and a team of dedicated providers. Primary care requires dedicated planning, resourcing and coordination. We are pleased to join the task force and believe continued collaboration and immediate action will bring us closer to our collective vision.”
Dr. Noel DaCunha, president, Alberta College of Family Physicians
“The Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta is elated to see the newly released MAPs report, which provides direction for primary care reform and includes the full integration of nurse practitioners. The Government of Alberta is taking a significant and essential step in improving access to primary care for Albertans. This announcement is a win-win for Albertans and nurse practitioners, as it recognizes the valuable contributions of NPs delivering high-quality care for Albertans and their ability to decrease the stress on the health care system. We are excited about the future of primary care in Alberta.”
Dr. Susan Prendergast, president, Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta
“These actions are welcome news for rural Alberta. Ensuring Albertans have access to health care professionals when and where they need it is essential. This work will help to solve some of the unique challenges for rural Albertans by encouraging health professions to practise in rural parts of the province.”
Martin Long, parliamentary secretary for rural health
Strengthening Indigenous health care
Indigenous Peoples face many barriers to access appropriate health care. To support better health outcomes, the government will build more meaningful connections with Indigenous leaders and communities to identify improvements that reflect the unique nature of their communities. Immediate actions include:
“It is unacceptable that Indigenous Peoples continue to face so many barriers when accessing primary health care. It is crucial that all First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples have equitable access to community-based primary health care that is culturally safe, respects their unique needs and is free of racism. These immediate actions will help us achieve that goal.”
Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
“The panel’s recommendations provide a clear and stable pathway to create a safe, culturally appropriate primary health care system that includes Indigenous people as partners and leaders at every stage of the development, governance and delivery of health care services. The best solutions exist within our respective communities, tailored for our unique needs and priorities. The commitments made today are an important first step toward improving health equity for Indigenous Peoples, regardless of where they live in Alberta.”
Naa Taoyi Piita Wo Taan, Dr. Tyler White, CEO, Siksika Health Services and co-chair, MAPS Indigenous Primary Health Care Advisory Panel