Premier Prentice Announces yet Another Review while Rural Health Suffers

"It is difficult not to be skeptical when we have seen over and over again how plans introduced by this PC government are not acted upon while medical needs take a backseat," stated Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.

While announcing a comprehensive review to rural health care, Premier Prentice and Minister Mandel indicated that they had heard concerns shared by many rural communities. In 2008 when then Minister of Health Ron Liepert came out with "Vision 2020" document, the exact same concerns and challenges faced by rural Alberta, ( noted today by Premier Prentice) were cited. At that time, the Alberta government employed the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to analyze the state of health care in our province, and the conclusions were incorporated into the Vision 2020 document.

They heard the same concerns we have today, but the recommendations made matters worse for rural healthcare access and delivery.

"We have seen how access to local health care has been seriously compromised in some rural communities. In the past six years we have now seen how the cutting of services, closure of rural hospital beds and centralization of services has not worked. We have seen how centralization has resulted in longer wait times, lack of timely care and accessibility to services. We have seen a failure to maximize rural facilities and people having to travel long distances to obtain the most basic care such as obstetrics services," adds Azocar.

"The proof will be in the details of the recommendations to actually change direction and fix the already known problems of rural healthcare," concluded Azocar.