Legislature Fall Session marks the Fall of Fighting Back for our Public Health Care

Legislature Fall Session marks the Fall of Fighting Back for our Public Health Care

As MLAs return to work today, Albertans can expect to continue to see steps in pursuit of this government’s ongoing agenda to privatize our public health care.

Since the release of the UCP’s 2019 election platform, this government has remained steadfast in that goal. The release of the McKinnon report back in September 2019, followed by the AHS Performance Review in February, provided the ideological fodder, as both made recommendations for sweeping changes to our health care system through major privatization. The government has been quick to act on those recommendations, introducing legislative changes that have provided the legal framework for the privatization of our medical laboratories, in-hospital support services, and surgeries, among others, as well as the announcement that upwards of 11,000 people will be laid off from AHS. This past weekend at the UCP AGM, we saw members narrowly pass a policy which directs the party to pursue a ‘privately funded and privately managed health-care system’ in Alberta.

Premier Kenney and Health Minister Shandro have made it clear that they are not interested in funding public solutions, as that would require that they believe in the importance and value of a strong public health care system. The narrative coming from this government is one of “transformational change,” but instead what we’re seeing is more of the same tired old project of corporatizing our public health care system. True transformation would mean implementing public solutions to build on our existing public capacity, and working to expand and improve our  public health care system for the benefit of everyone. As Albertans have already seen in areas like seniors’ care, once we open the flood gates to privatization it is difficult to get them closed again.

“Trust is essential in governance and leadership and to be able to move forward with implementing policy,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “Regardless of their empty platitudes directed towards our front-line workers, the truth remains that this government is laying off thousands of the very people who have been central to this province’s pandemic response. Albertans cannot trust that this Minister of Health will improve, protect and expand our public health care, while he is actively dismantling the public health care system on which we all rely.”

Almost two years into this government and Albertans are growing increasingly tired of watching a handful of corporate power brokers and political bagmen find new ways to distort our public health care system. We must stand up, yet again, and remind the government that our public health care system exists to provide health care, not business opportunities for medical entrepreneurs. 

This pandemic and subsequent public health emergency has made it clear that we are all better for this essential public resource. It is up to all of us to defend our public health care system, and ensure that it remains accessible to everyone based on need and not ability to pay. This will be a Fall of Fighting Back, and we call on all Albertans to become involved. Friends of Medicare encourages our members, supporters, and all those who believe in the importance and value of our public health care system to start by calling their MLAs, and letting them know that we will not stand idly by while the government systematically undermines and privatizes our health care.