Legislative Session Must Prioritize Health Care Capital Projects and Workforce Planning

Legislative Session Must Prioritize Health Care Capital Projects and Workforce Planning

Albertans will be watching for public health care investments in tomorrow's provincial budget.

Health care is expected to dominate the spring session of the Alberta legislature, which begins today. In advance of the start of session, the UCP government has already signaled an austerity budget, and has made concerning decisions around health care capital projects, including pausing the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre and the South Edmonton Hospital. As cover for these broken promises, the Health Minister announced $20 million over three years to go towards a new Stollery Children’s Hospital — an amount of funding that isn’t even enough to build an elementary school — while refusing to give a timeline for when the project would actually be fully funded and built.

“The government knows we are short hundreds of hospital beds in Edmonton, and thousands across the province, yet they continue to halt crucial health care capital projects like the Airdrie Urgent Care and South Edmonton Hospital. At the same time, they’ve provided no timeline for getting the new Red Deer Hospital built or the new Calgary Cancer Centre up and running. It’s unacceptable,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “We haven't built a hospital in Edmonton in over 35 years. In that time, hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the capital region. We're way behind on building health care infrastructure and we need to get moving on a workforce plan to get new and current infrastructure staffed and fully operating.”

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. The provincial government has failed to take leadership in developing a long-overdue workforce plan to address chronic short-staffing in our health care. Instead, this government is pursuing plans to table legislation to drastically restructure and create chaos in Alberta Health Services, while also implementing hiring freezes and threatening lay-offs.

“We desperately need our government to be laser-focused on the frontline health care workforce, and developing a strategy to ensure that our health care system has all of the human resources it needs to provide the timely, quality care that patients in Alberta deserve,” said Gallaway. “Our health care workers are exhausted and burning out, with no relief in sight. With so many openly contemplating leaving the system or the province, the government must prioritize funding for a plan to retain the health care workers already working here, while moving full steam ahead with recruiting and hiring those we so urgently need.”

Our government has a responsibility to ensure that everyone in Alberta can rely on our vital public services. At a moment while Alberta is seeing record breaking drug-poisoning deaths, while 800,000 people don’t have a family doctor, and while the care needs of people in our continuing care systems are are continuously going unmet, it is urgent that we make the much-needed investments to rebuild and strengthen our public health care system.

Tens of thousands have already signed Friends of Medicare’s petition calling on the provincial government to expand and properly fund home care supports in Budget 2024. We encourage all Albertans to add their voice.


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