Provincial Budget Continues Health Care Privatization Agenda While Ignoring Staffing Crisis

Provincial Budget Continues Health Care Privatization Agenda While Ignoring Staffing Crisis

Initial response to the provincial budget from Friends of Medicare’s executive director Chris Gallaway:

Albertans are increasingly concerned about accessing the health care they need when and where they need it. Today’s budget does little to ease those concerns. Right now, Alberta’s public health care system is in an urgent situation that requires urgent action to deal with the widespread short-staffing, worker burnout, and closures impacting our entire province.

But rather than taking leadership and doing the necessary workforce planning, by creating a strategy to retain, recruit, and train the skilled health care workers our province needs, the UCP government is actively worsening the dire short-staffing crisis facing our public health care.

Today’s budget completely ignores the pressing workforce issues that are impeding Albertans’ ability to access care. Instead, we’re seeing more cuts and more privatization. The budget continues to accelerate this government’s failed privatization agenda, while pushing forward their plan to further fragment the system by blowing up Alberta Health Services. Both will drive more of our invaluable workers out of our health care system. 

As our population has continued to boom, we have fallen further and further behind in hospital bed capacity in Alberta. We are short hundreds of beds in Edmonton, and thousands across the province, with no plans or timelines to get facilities built and open. Instead, the government continues to fund the expanded use of private, for-profit surgical services in Alberta, while pausing long-overdue public capital projects like the South Edmonton Hospital.

We haven’t built a new hospital in Edmonton in over 35 years, during which time Edmonton gained about a million residents. We are decades behind in needed infrastructure. It’s time to get to work. We need new beds and we need a workforce plan to get them staffed. Today’s budget offers neither.

More analysis to come from Friends of Medicare as we review the budget more closely in the days ahead.


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