The $18.3 billion going to this year's Ministry of Health operational budget, which includes $10.7 billion going to the Alberta Health Services base operating grant, when considering population and inflation growth, means the government is cutting health care spending per person. The cuts include a $26 million cut to acute care services.
"Health services are essential for the recruitment and retention of a healthy and productive workforce," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "If we are building a province, both for long-time Albertans and the many newcomers, we have the responsibility to provide them with quality public health care. We are not seeing an increase. Let's make it very clear: this budget does not address the damage that was done to front-line health care services last year or the year before."
As a result of the cuts, Albertans can expect:
- 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 health care services.
- So-called "results-based budgeting" in our health care system, which has led to less care and even less clarity. Funding for health care services should be driven by best practices, not by year-to-year budgets.
"Our public health care system is the most effective when there is enough capacity," indicated Azocar. "Unfortunately, today's budget further decreased capacity in an already-stretch health care system. This budget once again leaves us without any practical solutions to improve efficiency, quality, or timeliness in our health care system. Albertans have not lost confidence in public health care, but rather in the way this government has managed it. The finances of our health care system are becoming less transparent and less accountable as the government hands our public health care system over to multinational corporations, piece by piece. This budget gives no indication of that direction changing any time soon."