Alberta Needs a Health Care Workforce Plan, Not Governance Chaos, Restructuring and Further Privatization

Alberta Needs a Health Care Workforce Plan, Not Governance Chaos, Restructuring and Further Privatization

EDMONTON — This afternoon, Danielle Smith’s government tabled Bill 22: The Health Statutes Amendment Act, following through on their previous announcement that they would be massively restructuring public health care in Alberta. None of this was part of their election platform in last year’s provincial election.

“The ongoing short staffing crisis in our public health care system making it increasingly difficult for Albertans to access their health care. Yet instead of addressing the real issues impacting people in this province, the UCP government wants to drastically restructure administration as a supposed solution,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “What we are seeing today is a destructive restructuring plan which will only wreak more chaos in our public health care system while providing cover for further privatization. Albertans should be very concerned about the legislation tabled today.”

Today’s announcement comes in spite of the government’s health care privatization schemes continuing to fail before our eyes, including their ill-famed attempt at the major restructuring and subsequent privatization of large swaths of Alberta’s public medical laboratory system to for-profit operator Dynalife — a decision which failed so badly the government was forced to bring the labs back under the public system, ultimately costing Albertans nearly a hundred million dollars.

“Starve the system, blow it up and sell pieces off, that’s been the UCP’s strategy for our health care, and they look to be continuing that with this new legislation,” said Gallaway. “You think this government would have learned their lesson after their disastrous decision to split our lab system into two, and their subsequent failed privatization of our community labs to Dynalife, but here we go again.”

Today’s legislation fails to address the very real concerns about access, capacity and staffing being felt throughout our public health care system, and does nothing to provide more public or rural input into health care delivery. Health care unions and advocates including Friends of Medicare have stated their considerable concerns as to how the uncertainty surrounding the transition from AHS to the new mental health and addictions agency will impact health care workers and the people they care for. 

“Alberta is still seeing continuous temporary health facility closures because of our chronic short-staffing, and more and more of our health care workers are openly contemplating leaving the system or the province altogether. This is the worst possible time for the government to be creating even more instability and uncertainty,” said Gallaway. “The Premier and Minister should be acting urgently to show they respect our health care workers, by prioritizing a plan to retain those already working so hard to keep Alberta’s health care system afloat, while recruiting and training those we need going forward.”

“Danielle Smith has repeatedly talked about more local control in health care as cover for her transformative changes to the system, but today’s legislation does nothing but tweak local advisory councils, it's clear that none of this is about local input into health care,” concluded Gallaway.


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