More panels only further delay action for health care system in crisis

More panels only further delay action for health care system in crisis

Today, Health Minister Jason Copping held a press conference to announce the UCP government’s “Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System” (MAPS) plan, with the help of three new advisory panels with a mandate to report back with recommendations in Spring 2023. 

“After months of ignoring calls for urgent action on an urgent situation, the government has announced three impending panels, without all of the chairs picked, let alone other panel members in place,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Rather than announcing ever more advisory panels, the government should be fulfilling its responsibility to provide quality, timely health care to Albertans.”

Minister Copping indicated that the panels’ work will identify improvements to primary care, via consultation with primary health care leaders, patients, and national and international experts.  This process does not seem to involve a voice for other workers in Alberta’s health care system.

“We don’t need another task force. We already know the solutions: We need to listen to health care workers, we need a workforce plan, we need tangible investments to rebuild and strengthen the foundation already present in our public health care system.” says Gallaway. “What we don’t need now is more half-announcements filled with political spin designed to justify expanding the role of profit in our health care.”

While the government has finally acknowledged the pressing issues impacting Alberta’s primary care, which patients and health care workers have been raising for months and months, they have yet to provide any immediate solutions to increase access to primary care or relieve the burden facing primary health care providers. 

“The timing of this announcement is strange given that the government’s bargaining with physicians represented by the Alberta Medical Association is still ongoing, and we’re just two weeks away from a new Premier,” said Gallaway. “No one has been asking for another task force with a vague mandate and timelines that take us through the next provincial election. What we need is urgent action to improve care for Albertans now.”

Today’s announcement was chock-full of euphemisms that we have repeatedly heard evoked to signal impending privatization in our health care. Much of the rhetoric used today can be found in the Friends of Medicare Health Care Privatizer Decoder. 

“Albertans need to be assured that the decision to appoint yet another panel is not simply cover for further privatization of our health care system, as has become par for the course for this government,” concluded Gallaway.

- 30 -