Budget will hurt long-term care services

ALEX McCUAIG
amccuaig@medicinehatnews.com
Twitter:MHNMcCuaig
The three-per-cent increase in Alberta health care spending was highlighted as one of the few increases in this year's budget. To the local Friends of Medicare chapter, compared to the promised 4.5-per-cent increase in 2013, it represents nothing but a cut.
"Where we're going to see it the most is through long-term care facilities," said Friends of Medicare co-chair Alison Van Dyke.
 
"There's just not going to be enough nurses and doctors and people aren't going to get the preventative care they need and it's going to put a strain on the system later on."
 
Van Dyke said with the population growing and inflation, Alberta's health care network needed the promised 4.5 per cent just to continue to provide its current range of services.
 
FOM says the issue of the lack of a doctors contract is also troubling in light of the province moving forward with family care clinics, something Van Dyke says is of some concern for docs who remain out of the loop in discussions of what those clinics will look like. 

"They've had no say and I know there have been hard feelings between the province and Alberta Medical Association," she said.

"When they say there will be no increase in pay compensation for doctors in this budget, it's a bit of a hostile move." 
It's Alberta Health Services management which should be taking the brunt of the cuts, "and I would hope efficiencies would be found in management areas, not in front-line workers," said Van Dyke. 

"One of the biggest things they failed to address is that they are still continuing to operate the province on an unsustainable revenue resource."

The province needs to look at a return to a progressive income tax, she added.

In total, Budget 2013 will see a $500 million increase in health spending.