Three years ago, the Alberta Government and then Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky proudly announced "Alberta's 5-year Health Action Plan". In this action plan it was noted that "within 5 years, Albertans can expect a stronger more integrated, province-wide health system." It would stand to reason that we can all assume that long term planning is carried out through a process that involves relying on committed money and not money contingent on the price of oil.
Today's budget cuts right into the middle of this plan, leaving Albertans once again wondering how effective this government has been at managing our very complex health care system. "The 4.5% increase that Albertans would have seen in this budget, as per the 5-year plan, is no longer there," said Azocar. "That 4.5% increase would only have kept our health care system treading water to keep up with inflation and population growth, and that doesn't even take into consideration the cost to keep up with our aging population. The budget's 3% increase in operational funding to health care amounts to less health care spending per person for the next year - this is a budget cut."
So what does this mean for Albertans? It could translate into:
- Less front line workers providing our health care services.
- Less beds in the system - both acute care and long-term care.
- More out of pocket expenses.
- More privatization of our healthcare services.
- Results-based budgeting in our healthcare system often translates into less care and even less clarity regarding whether services are driven by the budgets or by best practice.
"Access to quality, timely health care is a right that all Canadians should enjoy - an essential public service that we pay for through our taxes," remarked Azocar. "Alberta's experience has been that the more we try to save money on health care by cutting corners and off-loading to the private sector, the more problems we create. Our health care system suffers from severe mismanagement, and cuts to health care will only compound the problem."
- 30 -
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director
Friends of Medicare