Today, the Alberta NDP released documents which show the UCP government’s intent to dismantle Alberta Health Services, with a drastic plan for restructuring and the potential for even more contracting out of Alberta’s vital health care services.
The outlined plan would be a massive undertaking that would impact every area of our already struggling public health care system. It provides little information to suggest how it will improve local decision making power as purported. Instead, the UCP government intends to disassemble and silo the various sectors of our public health care system, potentially creating even more barriers to access.
“Using Alberta Health Services as a scapegoat for the government’s political failings has long served as a convenient means of deflection, and it’s safe to say we are seeing that again today,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “This alarming proposal to create chaos by restructuring Alberta Health Services, while opening up even more of our health care to privatization, isn’t what Albertans need to hear right now. We need action and real solutions to finally address the overlapping crises in our public health care.”
This proposal comes at a time when Albertans are increasingly worried about access to the health care they need, as a widespread short staffing crisis continues to impact every part of our health care system. Tens of thousands of people in this province continue to be without a family doctor, our labs are still struggling to recover from a failed privatization scheme, and dozens of facilities across the province are still facing repeated temporary closures. Despite this, we have seen little action from this government to end privatization and short staffing, which are at the root of all of these issues.
“The short staffing crisis across our frontline health care system is leaving Albertans increasingly concerned about access to care. Yet rather than address the real issues, the UCP government wants to drastically restructure administration as as a supposed solution,” said Gallaway. “At a moment when so many health care workers are openly contemplating leaving the system, or the province, this is the worst possible time for the government to be creating even more instability and uncertainty. They should be acting quickly to show they respect our health care workers, and prioritizing a plan to retain those already working so hard to keep Alberta’s health care system afloat, while recruiting and training those we need going forward.”
Albertans and our health care system have long been subject to political games by our provincial governments. It has been repeatedly undermined and used as a testing ground for costly, risky privatization experiments with our health care. We have seen the AHS board filled with UCP cronies, and then purged when it suited their agenda better. We've seen AHS' CEO fired, the Chief Medical Officer of Health fired, and many other attempts by this government to politicize our health care administration. Albertans cannot trust that this latest scheme will be any different.
“People in this province deserve to know that our public health care is being protected and strengthened, not dismantled and thrown into disarray to fulfill the political whims of the government or Premier of the day,” concluded Gallaway.