Budget 2017 Resists Pressure to Cut Needed Health Services

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2017

Budget 2017 Resists Pressure to Cut Needed Health Services

Major Work Needs to Begin on Expanding and Improving Universal Public Care

Friends of Medicare are pleased to see funding increases of 3.2% which will cover spending pressures in inflation and population growth. Friends of Medicare are also glad to see the government willing to resist wrong headed calls to cutback an already stretched system.

“Our health care system has continued to face pressures during the economic downturn and this budget sends the signal that health services will be sustained,” said Executive Director Sandra Azocar. “We are happy to see funding this year meet population growth and inflation pressures. Anything less would be an effective cut. We’re also pleased to see new funding for a much needed hospital in south west Edmonton.”

“We are hoping for more transparency on infrastructure priorities, especially in rural Alberta. Concerns raised around Red Deer’s hospital & long-term care bed closures in Sundre have many of our members asking what “bending the cost curve” will look like for their community,” Azocar added.

“We are encouraged to see the first announcement of new public long-term spaces with a new 200 bed facility in Calgary and 145 new beds in Edmonton’s Norwood long-term care facility. With 2,000 public long term-care beds promised, we hope to hear details soon on the remaining 1,655 new public beds to be built. We know that communities like Hinton who had lost their long-term care spaces under the previous government were hoping to hear commitments in today’s budget." 

“The Government is halfway through their two year study of infrastructure needs for the Misericordia & Royal Alexandra hospitals in Edmonton and we hope to hear an update on the progress being made there,” Azocar continued.  “At the same time we are again pleased to see the government resist calls to cut back not only on operations but much needed infrastructure growth as well.”

“We are also seeing increased funding for mental health and home care services. Again, the details here are important,” Azocar emphasized. “The Ministry needs to work with Alberta Health Services to ensure new home care funding goes towards public delivery instead of the continuing subsidy of private providers. Mental health services are in serious need of support and we hope the increased federal funding speeds up action on the 2016 report of the Mental Health review.”

“The system is being sustained and some signs of improvement are here in Budget 2017. We’re now two years into the mandate of a government that considers itself the “heirs to Tommy Douglas”. Douglas’ vision was to expand the scope of universal public health care in areas like prescription drugs, dental care & seniors care. We expect to see a serious look at those priorities which will improve patient outcomes and remove inefficient private sector subsidies in the coming year,” Azocar concluded.

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