Another Report Validates Concerns About Failing Surgical Privatization

Another Report Validates Concerns About Failing Surgical Privatization

EDMONTON  A new report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that the UCP’s privatization of Alberta’s surgical services have failed to deliver on promises to reduce wait times. This follows a previous report from the Parkland Institute, which showed that the Alberta Surgical Initiative has actually made things worse.

“Once again, the data shows that the provincial government’s decision to prioritize privatization of surgical services by contracting out to for-profit surgical centres is failing to bring down wait times for Albertans,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “In fact, privatized surgeries are actually worsening wait times and reducing capacity, leaving Albertans waiting in pain longer for the surgeries they need.”

The CIHI report shows that over 40% of hip replacements and over half of knee replacements were not completed within the acceptable wait time standard. The government has continued to push an ideological approach to delivering surgeries, in spite of the evidence, and in spite of consistent opposition from health care advocates and workers who have repeatedly contended that privatization simply will not work to solve wait times. Friends of Medicare has been vocal in our opposition to the UCP’s Alberta Surgical Initiative since it was announced in 2019. 

“Despite bold promises from the government that this strategy would bring down wait times, what they’ve really done is made the staffing challenges in our health care system even worse,” said Gallaway. “Because the truth is, opening a for-profit surgical centre doesn’t create more surgeons, nurses, or other health care workers these procedures require, it simply pulls more skilled professionals out of our public hospitals and reduces our overall surgical capacity. Data from Alberta and across the country have repeatedly shown that privatization has been a failed strategy.”

The government’s aggressive privatization agenda in our health care has consistently failed to improve care for patients or working conditions for health care workers. Privatized food in hospitals has been a disaster, the failed privatization of lab services has cost Alberta at least $97 million to undo, and now privatized surgeries are failing to meet the needs of Alberta patients. As these privatization schemes continue to pull more workers from our public system, our health care short staffing crisis is only getting worse with dozens of facilities across the province facing repeated temporary closures.

“We need to be investing in our public hospitals and operating rooms to ensure everyone in this province can get the surgeries they need in a timely manner. It’s beyond time for the government to stop prioritizing corporate profits and to instead focus on patients and their care.” concluded Gallaway.


➤ Join our email list to receive news like this in your inbox
➤ Support Friends of Medicare's work