Last week, Albertans learned that the long-needed expansion and renovation of the Airdrie Community Health Centre has been paused as the government considers a proposal to add private delivery to the publicly funded facility.
Michelle Bates, the Executive Director of the Airdrie Health Foundation shared with Discover Airdrie that: "On January 11, the Airdrie Health Foundation was informed the renovations were on pause as the government is looking into other opportunities for our community. This other opportunity, we are told, will be privately delivered and publicly funded."
“The residents of Airdrie care deeply about their public health care. For years, they lobbied hard to expand to 24 hour care at the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre. Since then, they’ve pushed to get the needed expansion approved and moving forward,” said Gallaway. “Now the project is on pause and they’re being told to wait while the government explores private partners, rather than focus on delivering the public health care residents need. It’s unacceptable.”
The government has acknowledged they are reviewing a new joint proposal from private partners, and that Alberta Health has put the Airdrie Community Health Centre renovation project on pause while they do so. However, the government has made no formal announcement, or shown any transparency as to why this proposal was submitted and accepted for a project already under way. Significant questions about what private delivery is being considered for Airdrie’s health care, how much this endeavor will cost, or how much longer the people of Airdrie will be expected to wait, remain unanswered.
“The government loves to refer to privately delivered, publicly funded health care as ‘innovative’. But it’s not innovative; it’s a grift whereby our limited public health care dollars are allowed to be siphoned off by private corporations for their own profit, instead of being put towards the provision of the best possible frontline care,” said Gallaway. “The government needs to start prioritizing Albertans’ health care needs over securing private profits for their friends, and finally get on with building the much-needed Airdrie Community Health Centre expansion as planned.”
This is just the latest in a recent swath of privatization ventures in Alberta’s health care: In 2023, two Calgary clinics made headlines for charging membership fees for primary care services – yet the government voted against legislation that would have banned health care access fees. In January, the government announced that Shoppers Drug Mart’s corporate pharmacy expansion amounted to an “investment in primary care,” while an estimated 800,000 Albertans still don’t have a family doctor.
“Blow it up, create chaos and sell pieces off — that has been the age-old privatization strategy that the UCP government has been relying on since being elected. With this government’s priorities clear, it’s more important than ever for Albertans to speak up in support of public health care,” said Gallaway.