This National Medical Laboratory Week, thank you is not enough

This National Medical Laboratory Week, thank you is not enough

April 27th to May 2nd is National Medical Laboratory week, and during this week Friends of Medicare joins voices across Canada in recognizing the invaluable and life-saving contributions of our country’s medical laboratory professionals. 

Now more than ever, Albertans are witnessing firsthand the direct link between the lab and their health. "In Alberta, this pandemic has shone a light on the impact that having publicly delivered and funded lab services has made in helping to flatten the curve by providing the capacity for timely and effective diagnoses for those impacted by COVID-19," says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. "Around the world, Alberta has led the way in the number of tests administered, thanks to the excellence of our lab professionals. Our lab, in spite of years of neglect from consecutive provincial governments, has responded admirably to this unprecedented health crisis, and will no doubt be pivotal to seeing Alberta through this crisis and beyond."

Even before being sworn in, this government halted the development of what was to be a new public laboratory, and eventually cancelled the project altogether. Prior to Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreak, the government had already sent out a Request for Proposals, and we were well on our way to putting this integral part of our health care up for grabs to the highest bidder.  

For years many Albertans, including front-line laboratory workers and pathologists, have opposed the privatization of our laboratory services. Private, for-profit contracts remove the ability of the public to provide ongoing input to improve the system, and they minimize public oversight over the quality of services. Rather than transferring Alberta’s public health dollars to private investors by contracting out our medical laboratories, we should learn from the COVID-19 crisis and invest in improving and expanding our public laboratories that have proved so invaluable during this challenging time. 

Today, Friends of Medicare launched an online petition to urge and demand that Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro and the Government of Alberta immediately reverse the privatization of Alberta Precision Laboratories and to instead expand its duties and responsibilities for providing lab services under Alberta Health Services.

We are calling on Albertans to sign and share our online petition in defense of our public laboratory system. Together, we can send a clear message to this government that Albertans expect them to learn from this pandemic and commit to investing in the improvement and expansion of our essential and life-saving public medical laboratory system.