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Advisory Council on Pharmacare recommends a single-payer, universal, public pharmacare system

Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare recommends a single-payer, universal, public pharmacare system

Today was a historical day for public health care. The Advisory Council for the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report, recommending a universal, single-payer pharmacare program. Following a year-long consultation process with Canadians and stakeholder groups, the Advisory Council has taken the first major step towards finally achieving a national prescription drug plan for all.
 
“Canadians have spoken and have said clearly that we don’t want to wait another 53 years to implement a national pharmacare plan,” says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “After decades of advocacy and report after report calling for a national pharmacare program, Friends of Medicare is pleased to finally be seeing progress on this important issue that has impacted the lives and well-being of Canadians for so long.”
 
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Funding delays for new supervised consumption services are unacceptable

Funding delays for new supervised consumption services are unacceptable

On Friday, May 31, the UCP government announced that they will be suspending funding for supervised consumption sites currently under development in Medicine Hat and Red Deer, and a mobile consumption site in Calgary. Jason Luan, Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, indicated that his party will also be conducting a review of all existing sites, and that they will be “looking at consumption sites in light of the whole strategy – the overall strategy of intervention and treatment. It is a whole scan, from awareness, prevention and intervention to treatment.” The review has halted the development of the three proposed sites, and its results could impact the continued funding of existing sites across the province.
 
It was a serious escalation in opioid-related deaths in Alberta that prompted a harm reduction response in the form of the approval of supervised consumption services, initially in 3 urban centres: Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge. The central tenet of harm reduction is the reduction of stigmas and judgments about drug use and addiction, and is based on the understanding that there are people who engage in these behaviors who are not willing or not able to stop doing so. Harm reduction aims to reduce the health risks associated with these behaviors, such as public safety concerns like public drug use and discarded needles, the transmission and spread of blood-borne infections, overdose, and ultimately death.
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The UCP must continue work on conversion therapy in Alberta

The UCP must continue work on conversion therapy in Alberta

After a media report surfaced reporting that the government had canceled the Conversion Therapy Working Group, Minister Shandro took to Twitter to challenge the headline. He argued that he had not disbanded or cancelled the group, as there was no “Ministerial Order to appoint this group.”

Minister Shandro indicated in the Legislature that “the focus for our government is that we as a government do not condone this practice in any form. No Albertan should be coerced in any way, especially vulnerable children. Vulnerable children deserve to grow up in a loving environment.”
 
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Friends of Medicare Welcomes New Health Minister, Honorable Tyler Shandro

MEDIA RELEASE
APRIL 30, 2019
EDMONTON

Friends of Medicare Welcomes New Health Minister, Honorable Tyler Shandro

 
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, issued the following statement today regarding the appointment of Alberta's new Health Minister:
 
Friends of Medicare would like to congratulate our new Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro. We are looking forward to engaging with Minister Shandro as we move forward in ensuring that our public health care is protected and expanded for all Albertans.
 
Minister Shandro, a lawyer by profession, is well known in conservative circles, but brand new to health care. The Ministry of Health is the largest and most complex portfolio in the Alberta government, and Minister Shandro has a big learning curve ahead of him in understanding the intricacies of its governance and structure.
 
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Albertans will pay for the UCP's fiscally irresponsible political gimmick to quash public laboratory services

MEDIA RELEASE
APRIL 23, 2019
EDMONTON

Albertans will pay for the UCP's fiscally irresponsible political gimmick to quash public laboratory services 

 
Through 
media reports, Friends of Medicare learned that construction Alberta Health Services’ $590 million lab at the University of Alberta’s south campus has been put on hold until the new government has an opportunity to “review the project.”
 
Given that Premier-designate Jason Kenney has already indicated that he would reverse the building of a public laboratory, we know that 'review' is simply rhetoric for the ideologically driven privatization of an integral part of our health care system. "Even before the new government is sworn in, we see the first glimpse of what is to come," says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.
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Friends of Medicare's statement on Premier-elect Jason Kenney's election win

APRIL 17, 2019
EDMONTON

Friends of Medicare’s statement on Premier-elect Jason Kenney’s election win

Friends of Medicare congratulates Jason Kenney on becoming Alberta’s Premier-elect. We would also like to congratulate and thank all those who took an active role in our democracy by letting their names stand for election. Our province is made better by this exercise.

As the election dust settles and government gets back to governing, Friends of Medicare wants to remind our government-elect that timely access to quality public health care continues to be of the utmost importance to all Albertans. Albertans know that they are better off with a public health care system that ensures everyone equal treatment without worry about whether they can afford the care they need. Those who seek to dismantle our publicly funded and delivered system face an uphill battle to convince Albertans otherwise.

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Extended seniors coverage is a welcome step towards ultimate goal of achieving a truly universal drug plan

MEDIA RELEASE
MARCH 29, 2019

Reducing pharmaceutical cost barriers for seniors is a welcome step towards ultimate goal of achieving a truly universal drug plan

Today’s announcement by the NDP about their plan to expand pharmaceutical coverage to all low and middle income seniors is a welcome incremental step in addressing the massive burden that drug costs have on Albertans and their families.
 
The announcement came with a commitment of $110 million per year, which the NDP estimates will save qualifying seniors an average of $200 annually in out of pocket costs. The plan will cover all seniors with a yearly income of $75,000 or less, impacting 4 out of 5 seniors. Currently all Albertans aged 65 or older have drug coverage through the Coverage for Seniors Benefit, but are required to pay copayments of 30% for each prescription they fill, up to a maximum of $25. As many seniors require multiple medications, these costs can quickly add up, especially impacting the many seniors on a fixed income.
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UCP health policy announcement insupportable

MARCH 28, 2019
MEDIA RELEASE

UCP health policy announcement insupportable: Leadership is needed to introduce proven public solutions to strengthen our public health care

Today’s health policy announcement from Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, made clear that he and his party are not interested in finding public solutions to improve and expand our public health care system. Kenney presented Albertans with the UCP’s “Surgical Wait Time Reduction Plan,” and confirmed that if elected, his party would introduce policy to mirror the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative. He touted their achievements and successes; however, he did not disclose how much money they would need to invest in contracting out and privatizing public surgeries, nor where this money would be coming from.

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NDP wait times announcement a step in the right direction

March 26, 2019 12:47 PM

Alberta health care can be better -- NDP wait times announcement is a step in the right direction

 
Nobody should have to wait for longer than necessary for a surgery that they need, and today's announcement of a $90 million per year strategic investment will address some of the immediate issues that are pressing for Albertans. Rachel Notley promised that if the NDP are re-elected, they are committed to providing funding increases for cancer surgeries, open heart surgeries and cataract surgeries, while all other surgeries would also see an increase over the three years. The announcement also included a promise to increase access to specialists directly from the ER, and to expand emergency psychiatrist access to 24 hours.
 
"When asked, almost all of us will have a wait time story to tell. We have had to wait in emergency departments, wait to see family physicians, wait for tests, procedures and surgeries," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "These investments are great first steps from which to build on. We are hopeful that some of this investment will also go towards addressing the systemic issues that have created the wait lists that we Albertans experience."
 
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Good direction for long term care, but beds must be public

March 21, 2019 3:22 PM

MEDIA RELEASE
MARCH 21, 2019
EDMONTON


 

Advocacy groups: Good direction for long term care, but beds must be public

Today, Premier Rachel Notley announced that if re-elected, the Alberta New Democratic Party is committed to building an additional 2,000 long term care (LTC) beds. The promised $170 million investment is welcome news to a system that is currently facing serious shortages.

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