Lloydminster will have more equitable and fair health care services delivery, after both Alberta and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday at city hall.
The document, which has been more than a year in the making, helps ensure the unique service needs of a border city are met. It also sets out what each province is responsible for, as well as who pays for what.
The MOU’s signing was marked by a standing ovation in the council chambers.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne and Saskatchewan’s minister responsible for Rural and Remote Health Tim McMillan were on hand Monday for the event. They were joined by Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders and Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) CEO David Fan.
During his address, Horne talked about the funding allocations that came along with the announcement, including more than $1 million to develop a third operating room in Lloydminster (split with Saskatchewan), $750,000 a year to introduce the new Home First/Quick Response program, and funneling money towards creating Prairie North’s Primary Care Centre, which will be located at the Co-op Plaza.
Horne added that the MOU marks the catching up of the respective governments to where the people were.
He noted it could mean more money for the local health authority.
“It’s a sustainable plan,” he said.
“When I go to treasury board to ask for money for the health budget, when it comes to Lloydminster, I’ll be able to point to the very good plan that was developed here today and use that as a rationale for the investment decisions.”
The MOU is just one part of the health services report, a working group developed to address local concerns and growth.
The full report has three separate parts — the MOU, a health services agreement and a health services plan.
The plan is meant to lay out the type of health services that will be needed to service the region’s population — anywhere from 45,000 people for primary health services and 75,000 for speciality services — over the next five, 10 and 15 years.
The agreement and plan were announced earlier this year in March.
Quick wins announced at that time include physicians being able to hold licences in both provinces, the integration of Alberta Netcare, and emergency care services and protocols being standardized between the two provinces.
Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders was around the working group table from the start and explained the working group identified a “fix-it” list.
“Many things were under served that needed to have both attention, co-operation and support financially,” he said. “Those things were brought forward and we can see the result of some of those initiatives today.”
McMillan added the MOU is a great improvement over what was previously seen in the Border City.
“I think those concerns from the past have been built into the solution we have today,” he said.
Of all the announcements made Monday, Fan said he wasn’t expecting the commitment to the Home First/Quick Response program.
He explained it will allow for more home care services on the ground for seniors living in their own homes.
“It will allow us to support them living independently with improved quality of life for as long as possible — that’s a wonderful thing,” he said.