CANMORE – With the entire Bow Valley in a severe physician shortage, the Bow Valley Primary Care Network (PCN) is looking to Canmore and the Municipal District of Bighorn councils for help in finding solutions to the issue.
Since 2020, there has been a net decrease of six doctors providing regular ongoing primary care. Since February 2021, 18 doctors have removed themselves from the list of doctors accepting patients. Canmore’s population increasing by 14 per cent has only added to the growing crisis.
While council supports the idea of the committee, a staff member with the Town of Canmore will not be taking part.
“Looking at the human resources that we do have, the advice that was received was that it would not work that well,” said Mayor Sean Krausert.
“If we had the ability to provide such a staff member, we would certainly consider doing so."
In May, Dr. Kendra Barrick, president and co-chair of the Bow Valley PCN met with Canmore council, followed by a meeting with Bighorn council. In both cases, the councils stated they would look at the feasibility of a staff member or councillor serving on the committee.
While there will be no staff sitting on the committee, Canmore council has suggested individuals to sit on the committee.
“Already there has been recommendations of people to sit on this committee by various council members,” Krausert said. “It is also open for any member of council to participate further. You can do so, on a non-per-diem basis. There is also that opportunity.”
Several members of the community have also approached council members with suggestions for individuals to sit on the committee.
“There are people out there who have experience and want to help,” Coun. Joanna McCallum said. “We have people in our community who have more expertise than you and I do. I am grateful for them for bringing this forward.”
Council did give its full support to the committee, with its goal of alleviating the physician shortage in the Bow Valley.
“I think that this is a smart way to move forward in supporting the PCN in the best way we can,” Coun. Tanya Foubert said. “I would encourage them that when there is a recruitment strategy, that we work together with our colleagues in Banff and the MD of Bighorn to support the strategy if we can.”