Greater Role for Public Sector in Hinton Continuing Care Applauded
Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta welcome a change in direction for continuing care today, with the announcement from Alberta's Ministry of Health that they will now be operating the Mountain View Centre supportive living services in Hinton. The facility is currently operated by the private not-for-profit Good Samaritan Society.
“For decades the trend in continuing care was to increase the role of the private sector and close public beds. This is a needed shift in culture we have been calling for since the change in government,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “We are thankful for Alberta Health recognizing the integral role of the public sector in delivering health services. The previous government had created a marketized and heavily privatized continuing care system and it will take time to undo the damage. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.”
The Mountain View Centre in Hinton was built by the Good Samaritan Society with government funded support in 2002. This included long-term care, but in 2005, the Progressive Conservative government downgraded the beds to supportive living, and the community has been without long-term care ever since. Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta joined with Hinton families last year calling on the government to address the long-term care needs in that community.
"The government made the right decision to restore beds in this facility from the lower level of supportive living to the higher level of long-term care in Hinton, a community that before today was without a single long-term care bed," said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "We know there is a massive shortage of long-term care beds across Alberta, so we are also calling on the government to release the information it has on the long-term care needs in each Alberta community. The public has a right to know the full extent of the shortage."
“We also hope this is not an isolated decision, and that Alberta Health will look at other opportunities for public ownership and operation as existing contracts with private providers expire,” says Azocar. “We want to see Alberta go from a heavily privatized continuing care model to a leader where high quality public care with no profit motive, and excellent levels of training and staffing are the norm. Today’s decision shows we can put the public interest first if we have the political will."