Rural Healthcare is a Real Issue

Barry Morishita

October 27, 2022


In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, healthcare workers are tired, burnt out and assessing their future in their field. Many have already left the profession, or the province.

This is not an Alberta-only crisis, it is occurring all over Canada. A StatsCan survey suggests 1 in 4 workers are considering a change of career. And many provinces are wooing health care professionals to come and work for them. 

The statements made by the UCP leader and Brooks-Medicine Hat candidate about our healthcare system and its workers will do nothing but push more workers out, not bring in the nurses, doctors and other skilled health care workers to meet our province’s needs.

We are already seeing other health regions actively recruiting Alberta health professionals, like the President of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario who tweeted to AHS workers… “If you feel discouraged because you're being blamed for healthcare problems rather than being thanked for 2 ½ years of tireless work... We'd welcome your dedication and expertise.”

In my travels across the province, I have heard from municipal leaders that this is an urgent priority - in fact many are working directly with local health facilities to try to recruit workers with incentives to move to their community. 

Healthcare workers want better working conditions, job opportunities for their spouse or partner, good schools for their children and better quality of life. Financial incentives are not enough. 

The crisis in accessing primary care in Medicine Hat has become so urgent that Mayor Linnsie Clark and City Council have recently spoken out with a statement regarding the ‘dire need’ for action on recruiting and retaining doctors.

There are great examples of how municipalities, health facilities and professionals and others have worked together to attract new healthcare professionals to the region - we did in Newell County with Brooks, Bassano, Duchess and Rosemary. 

Collaboration and partnerships are the key to gaining and keeping needed medical professions in rural areas. But it has to be supported by a provincial government that isn’t belittling healthcare workers.

A lack of skilled healthcare professionals in the region is causing impacts throughout the system.

  • The list of temporary bed and facility closures in rural Alberta due to short staffing is a continuing issue.
  • There are currently no physicians accepting new patients in Medicine Hat.
  • Bassano emergency department experienced repeated temporary closures throughout the summer months. The closure of this ER has meant folks had to travel more than 50km to the Brooks Health Centre for emergency care, creating added pressures in that facility.
  • Earlier this year the Medicine Hat community lab services experienced temporary reduced hours due to lab staff shortages.

I am committed to tackling these issues as your MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat. I hope to earn your vote so I can represent your issues in the Legislature. 

You can follow the campaign here.

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