Rural VIP No. 20: Role of Rural Municipalities in Health Care
With the upcoming municipal elections quickly approaching on October 18, 2021 in mind, for the September Rural VIP survey, we asked the Rural Voice Information Panel (Rural VIP) members about the role that their municipal governments play in health care in their communities.
Although municipal governments (village, town, or county councils) are not responsible for paying for organizing, or administering health care in their communities, they are often involved in other ways. Municipal governments can advocate to provincial and federal governments to have their communities’ health-care needs met. They can also pass bylaws, make changes in their communities that can improve the health of citizens, and help attract new health professionals to the community.
Half of respondents indicated that their municipal government is very involved in improving health care in their community. Only three per cent of respondents reported that their municipal government is not involved in health care.
When asked if they are aware of changes or initiatives that their municipal government has made in their community to improve health care, over half of respondents replied “yes.” Respondents provided a wide variety of examples for these changes and initiatives, including building medical centres in their communities and offering free passes to the local recreation centre to promote physical activity.
Two-thirds of respondents are also aware of their municipal government advocating to the provincial government to improve health care in their communities. Examples given of these advocacy efforts include writing letters to and meeting with MLAs to request additional staffing or services in their communities.
Overall, about half of respondents are very satisfied with their municipal government’s involvement in health care over the last four years, while less than 10 per cent of respondents are not satisfied at all.
Most respondents (66 per cent) were unsure whether candidates for their municipal elections included health care as part of their platforms; however, 70 per cent of respondents said that the health-care platforms of their candidates will influence how they vote in the upcoming municipal elections.
As the involvement of their municipal government in health care is important to most Rural VIP participants, there is an opportunity to highlight the examples of how municipal governments are trying to improve health care in their community in future RhPAP articles.
Each month, RhPAP shares learnings and feedback from its surveys with Alberta Health and the RhPAP Board of Directors, who represent the following organizations: Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta.
Click here for a PDF version of the Rural VIP Summary No. 20.