Editorial – Shameful!

Chris Clegg

The Smoky River region is very lucky to have people like Dione Guerette.
For many years, she has put her heart and soul as a member into the non-profit Falher and Area Community Association of Professional Services [CAPS] organization, which is dedicated to attracting health professions in the region.
Guerette was at the M.D. of Smoky River meeting Nov. 10 asking for money to help operate the Falher Medical Clinic. She was attending the meeting asking for $22,000 in total from the M.D., Town of Falher, Village of Girouxville, Town of McLennan, Village of Donnelly and others. The good news, she reported, is Birch Hills County contributed $1,250.
The M.D. tabled the matter to its Dec. 8 meeting. It’s share based on population is about $13,500.
All arguments aside, the fact is the clinic has a much-needed nurse practitioner serving the area. She has served 1,200 patients making 4,600 appointments in the last 10 months. It does not to be said it lessens the pressure on Alberta’s healthcare system [and local doctors] a great deal.
What we have here is a group dedicated to better serving the region. The Alberta government is riding a “freebie” with no contributions except to pay the nurse practitioner’s hourly wage. It’s a real deal considering doctors are paid by a per patient fee. It prompted Guerette to call it “the new wave of medicine”.
Yet, the Alberta government, in all its wisdom, is not supporting this clinic. Instead, it is left in the hands of Smoky River region taxpayers. The buzz word local politicians use is “downloading”. The Alberta government pays nothing and laughs all the way to the bank. Two different governments comprised of Conservatives and New Democrats, have failed miserably in trying to fix the province’s healthcare woes. The basic duty of placing doctors in communities to serve the people is a failure.
Meanwhile, Smoky River taxpayers are paying more for a vital service that, if handled properly, would not be left in the laps of Smoky River residents to pay.
The Alberta government’s responsibility does not end there. All over the Peace region, our municipal governments are paying money to operate physician recruitment committees. They have one in Smoky River, another in High Prairie and one in Peace River. All are funded by – you guessed it! – local taxpayers. Nov. 10, the M.D. of Smoky River agreed to fund $16,217.97 for the 2022 $27,000 budget.
The fact is, if the Alberta government was doing its job, none of these committees would to exist. Due to the ineptitude of the boy and girls in Edmonton, communities like Falher, McLennan, High Prairie, Peace River and more are pitted again each other battling for the services of doctors and other healthcare professionals. We wine and dine them when they arrive, sometimes houses are subsidized, clinics subsidized, and more. The big loser is the local taxpayer and it shouldn’t be that way.
The state of healthcare in Alberta is disastrous. Making the M.D. of Smoky River compete against the M.D. of Opportunity, or Town of High Prairie compete against the Town of High Level, is fundamentally rotten to the core.
Meanwhile, the local taxpayers take the hit.

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