Election-Style Budget Doesn’t Change the Government’s Record on Health Care

Election-Style Budget Doesn’t Change the Government’s Record on Health Care

Friends of Medicare’s initial response to the provincial budget

EDMONTON — This afternoon, the Smith government released their 2023-2024 provincial budget, the final budget Albertans will see before voting in this spring’s provincial election.

“The UCP government spent the last 4 years making decisions geared at breaking our public health care system, repeatedly throwing the system into crisis in order to justify an agenda of privatization,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare, “Yet, now that they are headed into a tight election, where health care is the top issue for Albertans, they have tabled a budget claiming to be the champions of fixing our health care.”

New health care funding in today's budget falls short of funding to be provided by the federal government, as result of the agreement in principle the Alberta government signed with Ottawa yesterday. And it is a far cry from what would be needed to even meet the record population growth and inflation Alberta has seen this past year. 

“The funding in this budget far from makes up for the destruction the UCP government has already wreaked on our health care system. It doesn't make up for the four previous years of undermining and under-resourcing a system in crisis. It doesn’t make up for the millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 funding they left on the table or have refused to account for,” said Gallaway. “It certainly won’t bring back the family doctors and other health care workers we lost to burnout or to more supportive provincial governments.”

Despite the Premier’s repeated claims this week that Alberta’s health care system is no longer in crisis, patients, families, and health care workers know firsthand that that’s far from the truth. New reports from the Auditor General showed just how badly we are failing Alberta’s seniors in long term care, Albertans are continuing to die in record numbers from drug poisoning, and over 30 hospitals and health care facilities across the province are currently facing repeated temporary closures due to ongoing staffing shortages.

“Our public health care system is in an urgent situation that requires urgent action to deal with the widespread short-staffing, worker burnout, and closures impacting our entire province,” said Gallaway. “Yet, today’s budget addresses none of these issues, and instead accelerates this government’s failed privatization agenda, which is only further fragmenting the system and worsening the dire short-staffing situation facing our public health care.” 

“The government keeps repeating that ‘help is on the way,’ but Albertans are tired of waiting for help that never comes,” continued Gallaway. “We continue to hear from people all over this province who are struggling to access the health care they need. Yet this government has repeatedly made it clear that the only people they’re interested in helping are their for-profit friends and their shareholders.”

With a provincial election fast approaching, Albertans should be very concerned about what another four years of a Danielle Smith government will mean for the future of our health care, and whether or not they’ll be able to afford it.

Stay tuned for more budget analysis to come from Friends of Medicare.

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