• Albertans' blood and plasma is not for sale

    March 30, 2020

    Albertans' blood and plasma is not for sale

    While health care workers and communities are struggling to support each other through the COVID-19 crisis, private blood brokers are trying to profit off of this dire situation. The Alberta government lobbyist registry shows that a big pharma interest group that represents the private for-profit blood industry (Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association represented by Santis Health Inc), is attempting to persuade the government to repeal the Voluntary Blood Donation Act, which bans for-payment blood clinics in the province. 
    The Voluntary Blood Donation Act, passed in 2017, ensures that all blood and plasma collected in Alberta is used for patients in the province and across Canada. If repealed, it would ensure that tens of thousands of units of much needed blood plasma are shipped out of the province to global markets, putting the entire Canadian supply chain at risk. Ontario, Quebec and BC also have similar laws in place. 
  • Friends of Medicare endorses Health Coalitions’ Joint Statement on COVID-19 and Public Health Care














    The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the extent to which our individual health is dependent on the health of everyone in our community. Public healthcare is our best defense against this crisis and others like it. However, our ability to endure crises and care for each other has been eroded through decades of austerity budgets, privatization and inadequate planning. Even during “normal times,” the health care system is at capacity.

  • Senior's primary care is more essential than ever during COVID-19

    Senior's primary care is more essential than ever during COVID-19

    If the current COVID-19 pandemic can teach us anything, it is the importance of a strong public health care and a strong primary care system. Whether it be a foreseeable shift in demographic health needs, like in the case of Alberta’s steadily aging population, or an unexpected outbreak of a virus, like COVID-19, our health system needs to be able to provide quality, timely care to everyone who needs it. What we don't need, now more than ever, is the closure of our much needed health resources, or the layoffs of our vital health care workers.
    Approximately two weeks ago, Sage Seniors Association in central Edmonton gave notice to the 500 seniors who are patients at Sage Health Services, that they would be ceasing all operations as of March 31st, 2020. For the past two years, this program has provided onsite community collaborative care for seniors, without fees. Sage is centrally-located, nearby to where a large number of seniors reside, while seniors with mobility issues were able to be picked up at their homes and taken to their appointments via bus. It provided seniors access to nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, mental health therapists, pharmacists and health navigators. These workers will be laid off at the end of the month.
  • Responsible budgetary decisions needed amidst health & economic crisis

    Responsible budgetary decisions needed amidst health & economic crisis

    As the Alberta Legislature resumes its business today, and the government sets out to push through it’s 2020 budget, Friends of Medicare have a message for Premier Kenney and Health Minister Shandro: don’t mess with our health care!

  • More vulnerable Albertans left behind by SCS review

    More vulnerable Albertans left behind by SCS review

    Albertans have once again been presented with the findings of a government-appointed review committee, and as in the case of previous reports, it reflects a predetermined outcome consistent with the ideological bent of this government. Unsurprisingly, today’s presentation of the findings of the supervised consumption services (SCS) review committee provided exactly the ideological justification that this government needs to move forward on their dangerous plan to limit or eradicate harm reduction services in this province.
    “This panel was only tasked with looking at one side of the story, the socioeconomic impact, and not on the human benefit of having this health care service available to the individuals who need it,” said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.
  • Surgeries announcement poses more questions than answers

    March 4, 2020

    Surgeries announcement poses more questions than answers

    Today Health Minister Shandro and Premier Kenney announced a $500 million investment as part of the Alberta Surgical Wait Times Initiative, and earmarked just $100 million of this amount to provide capital funding to upgrade and renovate surgical rooms and equipment and expand surgical capacity within the public system.
    “As per the press conference, some of this $400 M will be going to the workforce plan that will see a modest increase in staffing for these additional surgical beds, however no real mention was made as to where the remainder of the funds will be allocated,” says Sandra Azocar Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. 
  • Budget 2020 flatlines health care funding while cuts and privatization continue

    February 27, 2020

    Budget 2020 flatlines health care funding while cuts and privatization continue

    Today's budget sees a flatlining of the health care budget for 2020, with a spending increase of a mere 0.3% over the next three fiscal years. A minimum of 2.9% additional funding is necessary to keep Alberta's health care spending in line with inflation and population growth each year – the spending freeze through 2023, as outlined in today's budget, will mean fewer public dollars spent in the health care system. In terms of the impact on Albertans, the spending freeze will amount to a 9% reduction in health care spending in the next three years.
    "Regardless of the political spin, when a government is not able to provide health care to meet the needs of a growing population, it is a cut," says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. "As one goes down line by line through Budget 2020, what we're seeing is a decrease in most areas of the health care budget."
  • Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy call on government to support supervised consumption services

    Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy call on government to support supervised consumption services

    February 26, 2020

    EDMONTON  Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy are disheartened by the potential changes coming to supervised consumption services (SCS) in our province, and are standing in solidarity today in support of these life-saving and evidence-based services. Today, more than 25 organizations from across the province and abroad are releasing a joint statement, calling on the government to commit to supporting SCS, and the organizations that provide it.

  • Friends of Medicare's response to the Throne Speech


    Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, made the following statement today following the Alberta government's Throne Speech:

    The 2020 Throne Speech not only outlines business that the government will bring to the Legislative Assembly in the upcoming session, but also serves to direct the political discourse and narrative intended to shape and influence how we view and respond to the political challenges facing us.

    When it comes to health care policy, this year’s Throne Speech provided little more than a reiteration of prior announcements already made by the government. We saw once again their commitment to cutting and privatizing throughout the sector, through reforms like the Surgical Wait Times Initiative. Again, we see that this government will be moving forward with little regard to the patients and health care providers who are already being impacted by their wayward economic policy decisions made in the name of short-term “savings.”

  • APWG: Pharmacare Bill signals a positive step towards a long-awaited national, universal Pharmacare program

    Alberta Pharmacare Working Group: Pharmacare Bill signals a positive step towards a long-awaited national, universal Pharmacare program

    The Alberta Pharmacare Working Group (APWG) is encouraged by the tabling of Bill C-213, An act to enact the Canada Pharmacare Act. This private member’s bill, introduced by Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby, proposes the framework for the implementation of a national pharmacare program modeled after the Canada Health Act, and founded in the principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility.