City of Fort Macleod hopes incentives will solve doctor shortage in Alberta municipality

Calling family doctors in Fort Macleod, Alberta.

The city is offering a $10,000 incentive to each physician who signs a five-year term with Alberta Health Services and commits to practice in the southern Alberta municipality.

“We saw this as an opportunity to stand out from other communities, to kind of increase the appeal of joining the community,” said Anthony Burdett, city manager.

Read more:

Lethbridge city councilors address doctor shortages and undesirable public behavior at meeting

Officials say only two doctors currently practice in the city, leaving the region understaffed.

The Chinook Primary Care Network website does not list any Fort Macleod doctors as currently accepting new patients.

“The rest of the needs in Fort Macleod are filled by locums, physicians who kind of rotate to meet some of the needs that we have in our community,” Burdett said.

The story continues under the ad

“I have been advised that we need at least five doctors – it would be ideal, maybe six – for a community of our size with surrounding areas.”

Click to play video: '11 more doctors expected in Lethbridge by 2023: Officials'

11 more doctors expected in Lethbridge by 2023: officials

11 more doctors expected in Lethbridge by 2023: official – April 28, 2022

The local chamber of commerce is also partnering with the city to develop a community welcome kit for doctors. While the packages are still being finalized, interim chairman John Guliker said a number of companies are already on board.

“As business owners and being part of the businesses in the city, we find that if we don’t have doctors people will eventually leave,” Guliker said.

“We want people to buy local. We want people to be in our community.

As part of its recruitment, Fort Macleod engages with AHS through the Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Support (RESIDE) program. The provincial program is designed to bring more doctors to rural Alberta.

The story continues under the ad

Read more:

RESIDE program hopes to inspire new family physicians to work in 15 rural areas of Alberta

“AHS is experiencing recruiting challenges across the province,” reads in part a statement from AHS communications staff to Global News. “While it is currently difficult to recruit physicians from across North America, AHS faces a particular challenge in areas outside of major urban centers.

“We are aware of these issues and have a dedicated team in place who are focused on implementing solutions to support recruitment efforts.”

As to when these initiatives can cure the disease of the doctor of Fort Macleod?

“We’re hopeful to see doctors this year,” Burdett said.

Successful RESIDE applicants will begin practicing in their new community this fall.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.