Quality health care being "absorbed" by 2015 budget

Alberta Health's expenses are budgeted at $18.9 billion in 2015-2016, about $160 million lower than 2014-2015.  Health will see a $950 million cut in 2015-16 through "significant restraint measures" by Alberta Health Services (AHS), cuts to Primary Care Networks (PCNs), and drug cost savings.

"The Alberta Government's new way to spin budget cuts is by saying the lost money is being 'absorbed,'" stated Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "The cuts will include 1,700 staff being cut from the health care system. There is only so much money they can wring out with efficiencies. The budget looks like it expects our province not to have any more babies, grow older, or accept any newcomers."

The new Health Care Contribution Levy will be paid by individuals with taxable income over $50,000 (to a maximum of $1,000). It is expected to generate 1.8% of the government's revenue ($396 million) and will go directly into general revenues. That new revenue will not lead to an increase in health care spending. In fact, the government's budget will not even account for the 84,500 new people expected in Alberta this year.

"If the government simply wanted to increase taxes, it could have done that in many other ways," added Azocar. "By slapping a 'health care' label on this tax, the government is not being honest with Albertans. The reality is less money in your pocket and less money for health care."