OPINION: LaGrange needs to rethink opinion on Red Deer hospital

OPINION: LaGrange needs to rethink opinion on Red Deer hospital

Her answer was a reference to her government’s pre-election promise to move forward with the Red Deer Hospital Redevelopment. But her government has only budgeted $25 million for the project this fiscal year – not even enough to build an elementary school. And the multi-year budget forecast is a mere 10% of what would be needed for construction, while offering no plan for staffing the facility.

For years the Red Deer Hospital has needed action. This is a hospital that serves a regional population people more than any one hospital in the big cities. Yet, under the government’s plan it will be at least two more provincial elections before folks in Red Deer see movement towards this hospital project materializing, if ever.

Yet right now, today, health care in Red Deer is in chaos. Urgent action is needed.

Local Emergency Room wait times are through the roof, causing Red Deer families to drive to other communities in hopes of getting in. EMS Red Alerts are consistent, while we see ambulances have been seen lined up 14 deep trying to unload patients at the Red Deer Emergency Room.

Red Deer surgeries are again being postponed or diverted, putting added pressure on Calgary and other hospitals. Using up even more EMS resources transferring patients out of region.

Obstetrics services closures have been seen in Central Alberta hospitals such as Three Hills, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House, Provost, and the well-known closure in Sundre, going on over two years now. Not to mention other Emergency Room and Acute Care closures in Central Alberta, all impacting the Red Deer Hospital.

Over 100 people in Red Deer have died from the opioid overdose epidemic since LaGrange was elected.

Through-out the region folks are struggling to find a family doctors and health care workers are burnt out from regularly working short-staffed.

The list truly goes on and on.

LaGrange and her government have created this chaos. They shouldn’t be proud, they should take responsibility.

Their decision to rip up the agreement with doctors, go to war with nurses and health care workers and their continued push for wage rollbacks are driving workers out of the system and the province.

Their decision to ignore public health advice, declaring the “best summer ever”, overwhelmed our hospitals, increasing wait lists and staffing challenges. Their refusal to treat the opioid crisis as a public health crisis is leading to record deaths in Red Deer and across Alberta.

But the truth is LaGrange and her government are allowing our health care system to break, in order to justify their real agenda – privatizing it. Rather than focusing on the care needs of Albertans they are pursuing an ideological agenda, using our public dollars to facilitate private profits for their friends.

Albertans are proud of our public health system, and they want local representatives that will fight for that. When asked they will tell you that.

LaGrange’s record of cuts, privatization and a broken “public health care guarantee” are nothing to be proud of. Her constituents deserve better public health care. They deserve more than a pre-election promise about a new hospital some far off day in the future.

I hope that the voters of Red Deer-North will consider the government’s record as they head into the next election because they deserve a local MLA and public health care system that they can be proud of.