Alberta reaches out to hiring agencies, colleges, even WestJet for contact tracing help

CALGARY — The call has been sent out far and wide in Alberta for qualified individuals willing to take on the monumental task of tracking down and notifying all close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.

The contact tracing team has grown rapidly since the start of the pandemic, when there were only 50 people staffing the phones, writes Kerry Williamson, executive director of issues management for Alberta Health Services (AHS) in an email to CTV News Friday.

“We increased this (five times) by July to 300 and more than doubled it again by September to 700. We now have more than 800 contact tracers in Alberta and are on track to double it once more, bringing us close to 1,600 contact tracers by the end of 2020.”

AHS’ staffing search has also taken them into some different industries including professional colleges, associations, post-secondary institutions and even community and industry partners like WestJet.

“AHS contact tracing postings have been shared with WestJet’s human resources on Monday (Nov. 30). To date, we have hired seven qualified candidates from WestJet,” said Williamson.

She adds AHS also has a contract with Ian Martin Group recruitment agency that will result in 50 people trained and ready for the job on Dec. 14 and another 50 candidates ready to go on Dec. 21.

By the end of the year, she says the contact tracing team in Alberta will be on par or even better than what other provinces possess.

“We will have 36 contract tracers per 100,000 people.”

The province’s contact tracing team is made up of full-time and part-time staff that come from a variety of medical backgrounds such as nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dental hygiene, speech and language pathologists among many more.

“We are prepared to meet the changing demands of COVID-19 with our increased numbers of dedicated staff, as well as innovative solutions of web portals, online booking and SMS text notifications,” Williamson says.

Anyone interested in helping with the contact tracing effort in Alberta is encouraged to visit the AHS careers website and apply for one of the open positions.

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