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

Sylvan Lake RCMP arrest man in Fox Run area hit and run

The arrest was made with the help of information provided by alert Sylvan Lakers

PHOTOS: Senior girls Aces beat the Blazers

The senior girls Eckville Aces met the Bowden Blazers in a Wednesday night game on Oct. 16

Lacombe County Council Highlights

County Council met for its regular meeting of council on Oct. 10

Pilot project proposed for Sylvan Lake and Rimbey RCMP

Chief Superintendent Shahin Mehdizadeh spoke about the project at Tuesday’s meeting of council

Sylvan Lake shoreline flags wrongfully replaced by well-meaning citizen

Al Cameron of VVOC says a loose thread is not enough to replace the Canadian flags on lakeshore

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

PODCAST: Journalism instructor discusses how reporters have taken on climate change

Mount Royal University’s Sean Holman has been researching how journalists have covered climate change

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Alberta takes second look at trucking changes after meeting Broncos families

Transportation minister has said government was reviewing rules for school bus drivers and farmers

Male pedestrian dead after collision with train in Blackfalds

Man from Red Deer pronounced dead at the scene

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in Canada. but some provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Most Read