Record investment in Alberta’s primary health care
Alberta’s government is proposing historical funding to strengthen the province’s primary health care system.
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 continuity of care for patients.
Premier Danielle Smith and Health Minister Jason Copping prioritized the importance of supporting primary care as the foundation of Alberta’s health care system. This includes supporting the continuing work of the 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 significant budget investment we’re proposing would make a tremendous difference in modernizing and strengthening Alberta’s primary health care system. I’m excited to move forward on areas that were identified and thank the panel members and everyone who has provided input so far into this very critical work.”Jason Copping, Minister of Health
Alberta has the best front-line health care workers in the world. Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring Albertans get the care they need when they need it. This includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples so they have equitable access to culturally safe and appropriate primary health care services, no matter where they live in Alberta.
“Indigenous people today still encounter many challenges when it comes to equitable access to quality health care. As CEO of Siksika Health Services and a Siksika Nation member myself, I know that the right solutions come from within the community. These investments are an important step towards ensuring that culturally safe, primary health care services are designed and delivered by Indigenous Peoples.”Naa Taoyi Piita Wo Taan, Dr. Tyler White, CEO, Siksika Health Services and chair, MAPS Indigenous panel
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.
The new funding for MAPS will help implement recommendations from MAPS strategic advisory and Indigenous panels, including a series of strategic activities with tangible outcomes. These actions will begin to address some of the long-standing challenges faced by all Albertans, including Indigenous Peoples when trying to access primary health care in Alberta.
“I am proud of the strategic advisory panel’s work to identify early opportunities to invest in Alberta’s primary health care system. These measures represent an important bridge to stabilize the primary health care system, support health care workers and ultimately provide better care to Albertans.”Dr. Janet Reynolds, co-chair, MAPS strategic advisory panel
Minister Copping expects the panels will present their completed reports this spring. In the meantime, the recommendations identifying the early investment opportunities will be posted on the MAPS website.
“Continued investment in primary health care is critical to ensure that family doctors, clinics, teams, Primary Care Networks and other partners have the tools they need to provide timely access to quality care for all Albertans. Central to this is building on the trusted relationship family physicians and health teams have with their patients on their health journey.”Dr. Rakesh Patel, board chair, South Calgary Primary Care Network and family physician, Silverado Medical Clinic
The final reports from the MAPS panels will serve as the framework for the future delivery of primary care in Alberta. With a renewed focus on Albertans’ primary care, the province’s overall health system will be less dependent on emergency care and hospitalizations and provide the care Albertans need when and where they need it. This focus on primary care will also bring about better health outcomes for Albertans.
“Primary Care Networks play a vital role in supporting family doctors and clinics to provide timely and appropriate team-based health care that meets the needs of patients. We look forward to working collaboratively with our many partners to identify innovative solutions to strengthening the quality and appropriateness of care, and ensuring patients have access to the care they need in the communities in which they live and work.”Melina Dharma-Wardene, executive director, South Calgary Primary Care Network
“We welcome the minister’s announcement around MAPS early actions. The actions signal the value of family physicians and the support they receive from PCNs to care for Albertans. PCNs remain committed partners in health care transformation.”Ernst Greyvenstein, PCN physician lead, Calgary Zone and member, MAPS oversight committee
- Primary health care is the first point of contact Albertans have with the health system, and includes health professionals such as family doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and public health nurses.
- Three advisory panels were established through MAPS in fall 2022 to identify primary health care improvements in the short term and over the next 10 years.
- Working closely with the Alberta Medical Association, PCNs and other primary health care leaders across the province, the panels are addressing major issues, identifying key areas for improvement and recommending new opportunities and ways to ramp-up existing strengths in the system.
- A final report with a recommended strategy to modernize Alberta’s primary health care system will be finalized in spring 2023.