Health Minister Mandate Letter continues privatization agenda, ignores the real issues

Health Minister Mandate Letter continues privatization agenda, ignores the real issues

EDMONTON — Premier Smith’s mandate letter to our new Minister of Health was released today. It prioritizes ideological pet projects like the Premier’s promised health spending accounts, and pushes restructuring at Alberta Health Services as the solution to our health care challenges. Not meaningfully addressed are the staffing crisis facing our health care system, or the failures of the government’s privatization schemes to deliver as promised.

“Throwing Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services into disarray with talk of restructuring is not what our public health care system needs right now,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “We are in an urgent situation that requires urgent action to deal with the widespread short-staffing, worker burnout, and closures impacting our entire public health care system. We need a credible workforce plan to first retain the skilled workers we have right now, and then recruit and train the health care workers needed to provide the care Albertans need and deserve.”

This mandate letter is released at a time when Albertans are witnessing the UCP government’s health care privatization schemes fail before their eyes. Privatized food in hospitals is a disaster, privatized labs are failing to deliver, and privatized surgeries are only worsening wait times and reducing capacity. 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.

“The government urgently needs to reverse course on their privatization agenda, because the fact of the matter is that their privatization schemes are only costing us more while worsening Alberta’s urgent health care short staffing situation,” said Gallaway. “We need to stop prioritizing the bottom line of for-profit corporations and instead invest our public health care dollars into strengthening the public health care system.”

The mandate continues to push exploring Premier Smith’s pet project of a health spending account, a proposal that will add administrative complexity and considerable costs to our health care system, while worsening inequity among patients. 

"A health spending account is nothing but a costly gimmick that doesn't solve any of the issues facing our public health care system when it’s very clearly struggling," said Gallaway. “This government is wasting precious time and resources on a project that will benefit no one but the most privileged among ustime and resources we should be devoting to implement the solutions we urgently need to fix our staffing crisis and improve universal health care for all.”

The mandate letter also continues to push the government’s so-called ”recovery oriented” approach, despite its failure to address the escalating drug poisoning crisis, and despite repeated calls from the community urging this government to act to save lives, that have all gone unheeded. 

“Six people dying from an overdose in this province every single day isn’t a success. This is a heart-wrenching disaster that should make us all ashamed. We need a government that can recognize the failure of the ‘Alberta Model’ for what it is, and take the urgently-needed action to prevent further tragedy.”

Friends of Medicare continues to encourage Albertans to support our calls for urgent action to save lives in the drug poisoning crisis.


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