If passed, Budget 2023 would invest a record $2 billion – the highest investment ever – to improve primary health care. This would include funding for 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 the continuity of care for patients.
Premier Danielle Smith and Health Minister Jason Copping prioritized supporting primary care as the foundation of Alberta’s health care system. This includes supporting the continuing work of Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Care System (MAPS).
The MAPS strategic and Indigenous advisory panels have presented interim reports to the minister, who has accepted all their recommendations in principle. Budget 2023 would provide specific funding to implement those early opportunities for investing in primary care.
The record level of funding proposed includes $243 million in new funding over three years to strengthen the primary care system throughout the province. As part of this new funding, Budget 2023, if passed, would provide $125 million for implementing recommendations from MAPS, $40 million to support PCNs under the AMA agreement and $27 million to PCNs to provide for an expected increase of patients attached to a primary care provider. In addition, $12 million will support IT systems designed to improve the continuity of care across the province.
On the other hand, the Alberta NDP’s health plan will connect one million Albertans to a Family Doctor.
According to a press release from Alberta NDP, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley unveiled a significant commitment to rebuild and strengthen family healthcare in Alberta, a critical step in ending the chaos in hospitals and ambulances caused by the UCP.
“Our vision for primary care is called Family Health Teams,” Notley said. “Our goal is for one million more Albertans to be able to see their family doctor and a Family Health Team within a day or two, close to home.”
Family Health Teams can include multiple family doctors as well as Nurse Practitioners, Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses, mental health therapists, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, community paramedics, community health navigators, physiotherapists, midwives, speech-language therapists, and others.
“When you walk into a Family Health Clinic, you will have immediate access to a range of primary care professionals who can help you respond to a problem, manage a chronic condition and generally support you in maintaining good physical and mental health,” Notley said.
“This means less waiting, less running around to referrals, and less repeating of your story to one new person after another. Family Health Teams mean one location to get your family health concerns looked after.”The Alberta NDP plan calls for a transition fund to hire 1,500 non-physician team members into existing clinics while work proceeds to open 10 Family Health Clinics across the province.
All Family Health Teams will have integrated mental health professionals, supported by the Alberta NDP’s long-standing commitment to insure five sessions for every Albertan under the provincial insurance plan.
The development of Family Health Teams goes hand-in-hand with the Alberta NDP plan to launch the largest healthcare recruitment campaign Alberta has ever seen.