Alberta spends $3M to hire 30 nurse practitioners for remote areas

Province has 600 nurse practitioners, but minister says most work in hospitals or outpatient clinics

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, is sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta is hiring up to 30 new nurse practitioners to work in remote areas or places where it’s difficult for patients to see a family doctor.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the new hires will work with family physicians and others in primary care networks.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have taken advanced education and can perform tasks such as setting broken bones, doing checkups, ordering tests and prescribing medications.

Alberta has 600 nurse practitioners, but Shandro says almost all of them work in hospitals or outpatient clinics.

He says the goal is to have them work in areas like Bonnyville, where the primary care network there has 600 patients on a wait list for a doctor.

Anne Summach, with the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta, says she doesn’t see any problem finding 30 practitioners to work away from the major centres given they will have more opportunity to do a broader range of work.

“Some of those nurse practitioners from outlying areas are really excited for this program because it allows them to maybe return to their home community to provide when they haven’t been able to have that full scope of practice until now,” she said Tuesday.

Some of the new hires are to work in First Nations areas in northern Alberta and the Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise areas.

Others will work at an Edmonton clinic to provide services for foster children and help at an opioid dependency clinic in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton.

Nurse practitioners make an average salary of $120,000 a year.

Shandro said the province will spend $3 million on the expansion. He said now only about 50 practitioners work in primary care networks.

“We need to fix that, so today is a big step forward,” he said.

NDP health critic David Shepherd said hiring more practitioners is the right move, but said it won’t solve larger staffing problems in health care.

And Shepherd said the changes also have to be set against an upcoming provincial budget and warnings from Premier Jason Kenney that belt-tightening is needed to erase recent multibillion-dollar deficits.

“It (the new funding) is a drop in the bucket,” said Shepherd.

“When you talk to people on the front lines, their concerns are about a lack of capacity, understaffing and not having enough people to cover shifts when people get sick.”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Spectacular Light Up at the Gendre Farm will dazzle the whole family

Annual Light Up near Erskine set for Dec. 13th

Alberta RCMP prepares for National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day and shares safety tips

National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day is a nationwide RCMP initiative taking place Dec.7th

County of Stettler balks at costs of Province’s modified policing model as local budget talks continue

Rural municipalities responsible for policing costs; upwards of $200 M

Lacombe Rams Senior Boys rout Stettler 86-53

Guard Jared Gamble leads all scorers with 34 points

Lacombe Rams Senior Girls bust Stettler zone on way to 63-35 win

Rams finding right mix between youth, veterans

Fashion Fridays: Ethical and sustainable gifts for the season

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Man accused in toddler son’s death inept parent, not murderer: defence

Toddler’s body was found outside Good Shepherd Anglican Church in April 2017

Job numbers disappointing, but oil and gas growth expected in 2020: Kenney

Unemployment rate in Alberta rose to 7.2 per cent from 6.7 per cent last month

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Feds approve Alberta’s carbon tax on big industrial emitters

Tax will be applied on 10 per cent of emissions produced by the province’s biggest polluters

Appeal denied: Alberta’s top court upholds conviction of triple-murderer

Douglas Garland was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of a couple and their grandson

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read