Concerns about the future of the Rural Physician Action Plan were brought up in Question Period by Grande Prairie – Smoky MLA Todd Loewen this week. Alberta Health Services has said it is reviewing the program that helps attract and recruit doctors to rural and remote areas.

“There are questions swirling around whether the NDP supports this program at all,” said Loewen. “Our communities are already hurting; let’s end this uncertainty. Can the minister commit right now to leaving this vitally important program in place?”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman responded, arguing the government should review objectives and outcomes at the end of a funding cycle.

“I think the responsible thing for us to do at this point is look at all the health professionals and how we make sure we can attract and retain them in communities throughout Alberta. Physicians are certainly an important component, but so are nurse practitioners, so are midwives; we’re working on those.”

She says funding for RPAP has been continued at the current level until the fall when a decision will be made. The money will run out at the end of March but it’s been extended for six months for the review.