Friends of Medicare’s initial statement on Bill 30

Friends of Medicare’s initial statement on Bill 30

The announcement of Bill 30: Health Statutes Amendment Act, made by Health Minister Tyler Shandro today, highlights this government’s demonstrated lack of commitment to Albertans’ public health care. If passed, the omnibus bill would make sweeping changes to Albertans’ health care, including repealing or changing 9 pieces of existing health legislation.

“Bill 30 represents yet another step in the systemic process of privatization that this government has been committed to since prior to the election,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “It signals that this government is unable or unwilling to learn the necessary lessons from a pandemic that has made abundantly clear the importance of a responsive public health care system.”

Bill 30 provides the legislative framework for the privatization of our health care. The bill follows several of the recommendations made in the performance review of Alberta Health Services (AHS), contracted by the Alberta government and conducted by Ernst and Young. The review was tasked with finding cost savings, with little consideration to best health outcomes or impacts to patient care. While Health Minister Tyler Shandro had initially indicated to Albertans that AHS would be required to put together an “implementation team” to prioritize the review’s recommendations and report back to the government by May of this year, this has seemingly yet to happen. Instead, the people of this province still don’t know how much contracting out our public health care will ultimately cost us, nor have we been provided any comparators of how much it would cost to increase in-hospital capacity or build public infrastructure in the interest of the public good.

“Albertans will not see a modernized health care system with these proposed changes. Instead, we are being fed the same tired old strategy of cutting and privatizing, dredged up directly from Klein’s ‘Third Way’ handbook,” says Azocar. “If the minister is serious about his commitment to public health care, he could modernize by expanding our public health care system to include areas such as pharmacare, dental, and vision care. But instead, we’re seeing ‘modernization’ levied as yet another UCP code word for the further privatization of our health care.”

Highlights of Bill 30 include: 

  • The Health Care Protection Act would be renamed to the Health Facilities Act, and would lower the bar for the approval of new private clinics and private surgical facilities. The current Health Care Protection Act (formally known as the infamous Bill 11) resulted from hundreds of thousands of Albertans standing up and protesting against then-Premier Klein’s ongoing attempts to establish a parallel private health care system in Alberta.
  • Under the guise of ‘choice’ non-physician corporations would be able to employ doctors corporations whose ultimate goal is profit.
  • The number of public members appointed by the minister to sit on regulatory colleges would be doubled, enabling the government to stack councils with their supporters.

The changes contained in this bill have the potential to turn over our resources, health care dollars and staff to private companies that will be subsidized by public health care dollars, rather than put towards improving our existing public health care system. “Albertans have been hit hard by COVID-19,” says Azocar. “What we don’t need now is our government working to dismantle such an essential public service as our health care. If this government is serious about making life better for Albertans, it must be committed to making investments to instead improve and strengthen our public health care system for the benefit of Albertans now, and for generations to come.”

More to come on this omnibus bill.