Alberta’s Health Workforce Strategy sets out a framework for supporting the province's current health care workers and building the future workforce that can support Albertans getting the health care they need when and where they need it.

The Health Workforce Strategy considers the need to manage immediate challenges facing the workforce and service delivery, while preparing to meet future needs.

The demands on the health system continue to increase as the population grows and needs evolve. A healthy, sustainable, engaged, and efficient health care workforce is essential to ensuring timely access to health care now and into the future.


A resilient and sustainable health care system that can provide every Albertan with access to a 'health home' that can deliver the care they need when and where they need it.

Growing the health workforce

Cover page of the Health Workforce Strategy. Image of 4 healthcare workers looking at a chart.

The Health Workforce Strategy’s framework is designed around 5 pillars each with objectives, actions, and commitments for the future to provide a path forward through immediate challenges and build a sustainable health system for everyone.

Review the highlights of the 5 pillars below or read the full strategy.

Read the full strategy

  • Icon of two hands holding a heart
    Pillar 1: Retain and support

    Provide a safe, supportive, healthy, respectful, engaging, and meaningful work environment to retain our health care workers.

  • Objectives

    • Improve support for workforce well-being and safety.​
    • Support independent physician practices.
    • Build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.
    • Create environments that help retain a skilled workforce.
  • Actions we're taking

    New workforce wellness supports

    • Implementing new workforce wellness, engagement, and safety initiatives to care for our current healthcare workforce and keep them engaged with a strong sense of belonging and purpose.

    Financial support for physician practices

    • Making significant new investments to stabilize the physician workforce and support rural practices, including:
      • $20 million increase to the $80 million currently invested each year in the Business Costs Program, which offsets physician business costs. On average, this means an extra $2,300 annually for each physician.
      • $1.4 million annually to the Continuing Medical Education program, which reimburses eligible physicians $2,200 for their costs to meet continuous professional development.
      • $9 million annually to help offset the costs to physicians of their medical liability protection fees.

    Targeted support for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers

    • Implementing specific strategies to support paramedics and other EMS professionals, including:
      • expanding access to mental health resources
      • working to reduce the stigma related to accessing mental health care
      • adjusting shifts to reduce mental health impacts
      • eliminating extended on-call shifts
      • improving front-line staff’s ability to take breaks
      • enhancing organizational capacity to proactively identify signs of burnout in staff 

    Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives

    • Established new site-based diversity, equity and inclusion committees across AHS that enable grass-roots networking, learning, and collaboration for equity deserving groups.
  • Commitments for the future

    Enhanced AHS workforce retention initiatives

    • Develop dedicated health workforce retention initiatives that will identify, prioritize, and effectively implement targeted actions to support and retain critical healthcare workers. 
    • Develop strategies to support and retain Indigenous employees.

    Expanded rural physician retention and support

    • Continue improving the Rural Remote Northern Program, which provides financial incentives to physicians who live and practice in underserviced communities.

    Strengthened employee safety and increased diversity, equity and inclusion

    • Explore opportunities to increase protective services to support safe workplaces.
    • Improve diversity, equity and inclusion through organization-wide commitments, policies and strategies.
  • Icon of 3 people in cirlces connected by a line.
    Pillar 2: Attract

    Attract and recruit new workers from Canada and abroad to build a sustainable workforce with the right skills.

  • Objectives

    • Increase opportunities for internationally educated health care workers.
    • Attract and recruit health care workers to rural, remote, and underserved areas.
    • Provide fair and competitive compensation.
  • Actions we're taking

    Increased compensation for essential clinical workers

    • Average increase in physician compensation of 4.3% over 3 years. 
      • Family physicians see the largest overall increase of 5.2% 
    • 4.25% pay increase over 4 years for nurses.
    • 4.25% pay increase over 4 years under the new Health Sciences Association of Alberta collective agreement.
    • $22 million investment to support standardization and improved compensation of certified health care aides.

    Recruitment incentives for in-demand physicians

    • Increased physician recruitment incentives up to $100,000 for critical positions with a return of services agreement for 4 or more years.

    Career pathways for international medical graduates

    • Implemented the Alberta Clinical and Surgical Assistant Program to provide an alternative career path for international medical graduates.

    Targeted international recruitment campaigns

    • Targeting healthcare workers from the US, UK, Jamaica, Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia, and Nigeria through social media and various professional networks. 

    Rural Capacity Investment Funds

    • Established the Rural Capacity Investment Funds through recent collective agreements designed to support retention, recruitment, and relocation initiatives.

    Credential recognition

    • Working with Alberta's regulatory bodies to streamline registration and credential assessment processes for all qualified applicants trained outside of Alberta.

    Nurse Navigator Program for internationally educated nurses

    • Developing the Nurse Navigator Program which will provide:
      • an online platform that consolidates information on licensing
      • funding for ‘nurse navigators’ to help internationally educated nurses go through the process of having their credentials evaluated and recognized in Alberta

    Nurse practitioner collective bargaining

    • Working to establish a collective agreement between AHS and the Alberta Union of Nurse Practitioners that will provide more stability and competitive compensation.

    Bridging programs for internationally educated nurses

    • Expanding educational opportunities for internationally educated nurses in 2022/23 with $3.5 million in funding from Advanced Education.

    Agreement with the Philippines to streamline nurse recruitment

    • Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines to streamline the process for recruiting registered nurses and licensed practical nurses trained in that country to come to Alberta.

    EMS staffing

    • Provided a one-year exemption from current staffing requirements to allow emergency medical responders to staff more ambulances and work alongside other paramedics to respond to more types of calls.
  • Commitments for the future

    Dedicated immigration pathways

    Alberta Health Services (AHS) provincial recruitment initiatives

    • As part of its comprehensive AHS health workforce strategy, AHS will build on existing work to develop and implement recruitment-specific actions to help grow the number of workers in Alberta, primarily in acute care and in rural areas.

    Focused EMS recruitment strategies

    • The AHS provincial workforce strategy will have focused actions to enhance its approach to recruiting new EMS workers to minimize geographic disparities.

    Targeted rural physician recruitment support

    • We will work with the Alberta Medical Association to identify additional strategies to support the recruitment and retention of physicians practicing full-time in underserved and rural areas.

    Reduced barriers for recognition of credentials from other provinces

    • We will proclaim and implement regulations for the Labour Mobility Act, to standardize and streamline credential recognition processes.

    Streamlined process for assessing international medical graduates

    • We will work with the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta to explore new licensing routes for eligible graduates of international medical schools.
    • AHS will continue to aggressively recruit international medical graduates, including providing temporary work permit support and recruitment incentives. 

    Reduced barriers to entry for nurses from other countries

    • We are working with the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta to fund and pilot a new approach for assessing the qualifications of internationally-educated nurses. 

    Improved recruitment and screening for internationally educated nurses

    • We will work with AHS to ensure the mechanisms and tools are in place to be deliberate, targeted and successful in our international recruitment efforts, with a specific focus on internationally educated nurses.

    Building community capacity

  • Icon of a hand holding a seedling
    Pillar 3: Grow

    Provide career growth opportunities for current workers and create capacity to educate and train new workers. 

  • Objectives

    • Grow the province’s post-secondary capacity to educate future health care workers.
    • Expand opportunities for existing health care workers to gain new education, skills and credentials.
  • Actions we're taking

    New educational capacity for nurses, health care aides, and allied health professionals

    • Funding through the Targeted Enrollment Expansion Program:
      • 1,090 new health care aide seats and 1,338 new nursing seats in Alberta’s post-secondary institutions
      • Additional 75 social work, 46 paramedicine, and 64 lab assistant seats over the next 3 years

    Health care aide educational financial support

    • Providing up to $9,000 in financial support to eligible health care aide students in exchange for a commitment to work for an Alberta continuing care provider for a period of time after completing their education through a health care aide tuition bursary program.
    • Funding eligible operators up to $9,400 through the Alberta Health Care Aide Workplace Tutor Program to hire regulated nurses to educate health care aides based on certification requirements.
    • Offering a 12-month training program for health care aides through Alberta Health Services (AHS) and covering the tuition for students if they commit to working in their position for 24 months.

    New Beginnings Bursary for low-income nursing students

    • Invested an additional $8.5 million to expand the bursary program to support more low-income nursing students so they can afford nursing education.

    New training approaches for mental health and addictions care

    • Implementing a new Recovery Training Institute as part of the Gunn Recovery Community to serve as a centralized, province-wide hub of highly trained personnel who deliver a training program for all health care workers involved in Alberta’s Recovery Communities.
    • Participants in the Recovery Training Institute program will learn how to deliver recovery-oriented addictions support and bring that knowledge back to their own Recovery Communities.
  • Commitments for the future

    ​New medical school seats with a rural focus

    • We are working with Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to explore options to expand the number of undergraduate medicine seats and post-graduate medical residency seats in Alberta’s medical schools.
      • includes expanding the number of post-graduate residency seats reserved for international medical graduates who are required to complete residency training to practice in Canada
    • We will consider new approaches to training medical graduates that attract rural students and provide them with opportunities to stay in their communities.

    Furthering educational capacity for health professions

    • We will continue to explore opportunities to create additional capacity in health care programs in addition to new medical school seats.

    New AHS registered nurse and licensed practical nurse training

    • We will work with AHS and regulatory colleges to expand programs that enable nurses to work in specialized settings, including:
      • peri-operative training for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses
      • condensed emergency department training for licensed practical nurses

    Expanded access to primary care mental health training

    • We will work with primary care providers to increase access to pediatric mental health education for physicians in rural and remote areas so they can do more to identify, assess and address mental health issues.

    New strategies to align EMS resources to provincial demands

    • We will work with the Health Quality Council of Alberta to determine whether there are enough EMS resources in the province to meet the demand.
    • This work will inform future efforts to train and recruit EMS personnel to meet health needs of Albertans.
  • Icon of a gear and a wrench
    Pillar 4: Strengthen

    Implement collaborative, proactive, and evidence-informed approaches to long-term workforce planning.

  • Objectives

    • Develop clear roles, responsibilities, and processes for proactive health workforce planning.
    • Better leverage data and analytics to make evidence-informed workforce planning decisions.
  • Actions we're taking

    System-wide strategic workforce planning model and approach

    • Identifying opportunities and potential models to enable and deliver ongoing strategic workforce planning, including establishing clear roles, responsibilities and approaches. The model will:
      • identify where existing knowledge, skill, capacity, and data exists in the system now and where there are gaps to close
      • propose an approach to bring all the needed parts together

    Alberta Health Services (AHS) integrated workforce plan

    • Creating an integrated approach to workforce planning that:
      • complements the system-wide model
      • aligns many AHS-specific actions and commitments from the Health Workforce Strategy into an actionable plan that provides a roadmap for workforce sustainability
  • Commitments for the future

    New capacity for provincial workforce forecasting 

    • We will work with AHS to develop and implement tools and approaches to incorporate workforce forecasting and performance measures in planning and decision-making.

    New long-term provincial health workforce planning

    • The health system will work collaboratively to develop and update a comprehensive rolling 3 to 5-year workforce plan informed by the provincial Health Workforce Strategy and supported by a system-wide forecasting model. This plan will:
      • contain specific tactics and measures to guide decision making
      • inform future initiatives
      • hold the system accountable for achieving our objectives

    Continuing care health human resource strategy

    • We are developing a sector-specific workforce strategy for continuing care in response to recommendations in the 2021 Facility-Based Continuing Care Review.
    • The health human resource strategy is expected to align with the strategic direction set by this provincial strategy and will work to address specific continuing care sector challenges that were made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    New workforce planning committee

    • To enable collaboration and promote progress and action, the committee will bring key organizations together, including government, AHS, Covenant Health, and other employers, as well as unions, colleges, and post-secondary institutions.
    • The committee will help to:
      • develop and deliver longer-term strategies
      • provide a forum to work through more urgent issues and challenges as they arise
  • Icon of a lightbulb with a gear inside.
    Pillar 5: Evolve

    Design and implement new models of care and enabling tools to deliver more efficient, high-quality care.

  • Objectives

    • Support and enable innovative, more sustainable models of care.
    • Implement tools and processes to better leverage contingent workers.
    • Leverage digital tools to increase access to care.
  • Actions we're taking

    Investments in team-based primary care

    • Investing $40 million over 2 years as part of the recent agreement with the AMA to provide incremental supports to Primary Care Networks in need or to provide improved service delivery for Albertans who may be underserved.

    Pharmacist-led primary care clinics

    • Launched a pharmacist walk-in clinic pilot project in Lethbridge in 2022 that leverages the skills and capacity of community pharmacy teams to improve access to primary care. The pilot will be evaluated for expansion across the province.

    New anesthesia models of care

    • Implemented a new team-based Anesthesia Care Team model to address shortages of anesthesiologists in some communities.

    Care hubs

    • Developed and implemented Care Hubs, which leverage team-based care and innovative clinical processes to support safe patient care and allow for flexibility in staffing to meet patient population needs.

    Nurse practitioner locum pool

    • Piloted a locum pool of nurse practitioners across the province as a flexible solution to fill service gaps, particularly in chronically underserved rural regions.

    Centralized scheduling for integrated planning

    • Continuing the roll-out of a centralized provincial staff scheduling system that offers greater staffing visibility and more flexible scheduling to support:
      • more connected and integrated workforce planning
      • more efficient and sustainable deployment of critical workers

    New allied health career opportunities

    • Developed a new strategy to support engaging, optimizing and retaining allied health professionals:
      • highlights opportunities to engage allied health in new career pathways that address changing population health needs
      • supports retention and workforce flexibility

    Contingent workforce expansion

    • Expanded the use of contingent workers, including engagement of casual staff that have been inactive for 6 to 12 months.
    • Exploring new opportunities to use regularized relief in local emergency departments, ICUs and operating room settings.
    • Continue to collaborate with the Alberta Medical Association to deliver the AMA's physician locum services program.
  • Commitments for the future

    New approaches to rural and remote care delivery

    • We have developed a proposed funding framework to enable nurse practitioners to work independently in a community practice to help address critical primary care gaps, particularly in rural and remote areas. Key stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft funding framework.
    • We will work to expand access to virtual care tools and services for Albertans, particularly those in underserved areas.

    Continued modernization of primary care services

    • We will develop a strategic roadmap that will outline innovative primary care solutions to address primary care access challenges.
    • The Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System initiative's panels of strategic advisors, international experts, and indigenous leaders will deliver recommendations in spring 2023.

    Regulatory support for flexible continuing care staffing models

    • Passed a new, streamlined Continuing Care Act.
    • Accompanying continuing care regulations are currently under development that will support and enable more flexible and innovative staffing models by removing regulatory barriers.

    New approaches to surgical staffing

    • We established the Alberta Surgical Initiative to address a growing surgical backlog and the increasing numbers of Albertans waiting beyond clinically-recommended wait times.
    • AHS will implement a number of new approaches to support the delivery of surgeries in the province, including new staffing models and additional training.

    Additional support for intensive care unit and emergency departments

    • AHS will evaluate and implement opportunities to improve staffing by using new staffing models, training programs, and deploying dedicated allied health professionals and nurse practitioners to emergency departments.

    Expanded support for physician and acute-care services

    • AHS will implement new strategies to provide support to physicians, including expanding the use of physician assistants and clinical assistants in order to address pressures in the short- and medium-term.

    Improved emergency medical services coverage and efficiency

    • We are undertaking a number of operational redesign initiatives to better utilize cross-trained firefighters to reduce the burden on critical emergency medical services’ workers.

    Virtual care billing codes

    • We have committed to a review of virtual care billing codes as part of the new Alberta Medical Association agreement, with the goal of:
      • increasing the availability of virtual care services for Albertans
      • more effectively leveraging the in-demand physician workforce

    Improved regulatory support for team-based care

    • We will implement amendments to the Health Professions Act that will create improved governance and accountability to help remove barriers to team-based care and support clinical workers with delivering their full scopes of practice. 

Measuring success

As this strategy is implemented, we will develop a framework and specific metrics across each pillar to measure progress and monitor the impact on building a more resilient workforce. To measure success, changes will be monitored in areas such as:

  • access to key services in underserved areas and wait times for critical procedures
  • overall number of nurses, doctors, health care aides, EMS workers, allied health professionals, and other workers providing care to Albertans
  • the distribution of health care professionals across rural, remote and urban regions
  • levels of engagement, satisfaction, and retention of existing health care workers
  • number of new care providers graduating from educational programs, as well as how many choose to continue to live and work in the province
  • number of workers coming to Alberta from other provinces and around the world, as well as the time it takes for their credentials to be assessed and recognized

Next steps

The Health Workforce Strategy is the beginning for longer-term action plans, to be developed in consultation with workers, employers, educators, and others to build a more resilient and sustainable health care system where workers have a safe, supportive, and engaging work environment.

We are committed to sharing progress with all Albertans on the Health Workforce Strategy actions and commitments.