Friends of Medicare sends questions to PC leadership candidates, receives no answers

Friends of Medicare has forwarded two sets of questions to the three PC leadership candidates. We received a form response from Jim Prentice's team which was basically a repeat of his 'health care policy' which left us with more questions than answers. We received no responses from Ric McIver or Thomas Lukaszuk. Both of these candidates have yet to share their formal policy on health care. Here is the first set of questions we sent to the candidates:

1. Can you assure us that you will not replace the Universal Seniors Drug Plan with an income-based alternative?

2. Given that the federal government has shown little interest in a National Pharmaceutical Strategy, would you support the development of a white paper on an Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy on the acquisition and distribution of prescription drugs at lower cost?

3. The chronic shortage of long-term care beds means that many seniors in medical crisis become patients in acute care hospital beds from which they may be shipped long distances away from their homes and support systems to access the care they require. What action would you take to address this issue?

4. We have a fragmented and increasingly privatized home care system that does not provide the quality of service needed to enable seniors to remain in their own homes as long as they are able. How would you address this issue?

5. The effectiveness of the Child and Youth Advocate was enhanced when made an independent officer of the legislature. Would you be prepared to accord the same status to the office of the Health, Seniors’, and Mental Health advocates?

6. Are you prepared to expand the role of these advocates to investigate and report on complaints related to the adequacy of home and facility care?

The second set of questions we sent the three candidates were specifically related to home care in Alberta. The questions are as follows:

1. What are your plans to create a long-term, sustainable, provincial home care plan?

2. What are your plans for improving home care services and increasing funding for home care?

3. As a result of the government cuts in funding for home care services, the cost is often passed on to clients and their families. This creates a financial hardship for many. What do you plan to do about this?

4. How do you plan to include citizens and clients in decisions relating to Home Care?

5. There is no transparency for the budget allotted specifically to home care. In the Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services budget statements, It is included under “Continuing Care Services.” What will you do to make available to the public the budget and expenditures specifically for home care? 
Since we have not received answers to these questions from any of the candidates, we are encouraging Albertans to forward the questions to the candidates and to raise them at public forums and events. It is important that Albertans know where they stand on these important aspects of public health care!