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Thomas hears healthcare concerns from Butte Council

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Health services remain a top priority for the Town of Picture Butte.

During the March 11 council meeting, council was joined by Lethbridge Member of Parliament (MP) Rachael Thomas, to discuss the Town’s ongoing concerns and priorities for the coming year. Among the topics of discussion, was various aspects of healthcare-related challenges the Town has faced recently. 

“We do have a new doctor coming to (town),” said Moore, “we are thinking the end of June, but we are not quite sure about that either,” noting the new doctor will need to be credentialed before a firm timeline can be confirmed. 

With access to primary care physicians an ongoing issue for many Canadians, particularly those in rural and small urban centres such as Picture Butte, there has been much discussion in all levels of government as to how address Canada’s doctor shortage. 

Foreign credential recognition has been widely cited as a top barrier in getting foreign doctors to work in a timely fashion. Councillor de Kok asked Thomas, “what is the Conservative’s plan to release 20,000 doctors that are in Canada that cant work, quickly?” 

Thomas said, “It is a big issue,” adding, “we do actually have quite a detailed plan outlined for that. Essentially, you have doctors coming in and sometimes can wait months even more than a year before they are finally able to work, so there has to be a system put in place then that is quick to assess credentials.” 

Thomas said should the Conservatives form government, “we look forward to cleaning that up and making that process a whole lot more streamlined,” and added, “if doctors come into Canada to work and they have completed their schooling, our goal would be to get them through the system within eight weeks,” for those who meet the Canadian standards to practice medicine. 

Thomas said, “I know there’s been challenges around ambulatory care shutting down,” and asked if there had been any updates on when this after-hours clinic might open. 

“We’ve been so focused on bringing in new doctors that we haven’t been focused on that,” referencing the details of the after hours clinic. 

In 2023, AHS announced their decision to permanently close the Town’s Ambulatory Care Clinic (ACC). During a subsequent public engagement session, AHS representatives announced plans to open and AHS “after-hours” clinic in town. Although no timeline was confirmed, AHS speculated this would be opened in the first half of 2024. Southern Alberta Newspapers reached out to AHS communications for clarification on this timeline and did not receive a response prior to publication. 

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