Shift to Private Surgeries will only Worsen Health Care Staffing Challenges

Shift to Private Surgeries will only Worsen Health Care Staffing Challenges

Expanding the use of for-profit surgical centres in Calgary is making health care short staffing worse while failing to solve the surgical backlog


EDMONTON - This morning, Minister of Health Jason Copping announced an expanded use of private, for-profit surgical centres in Calgary. Friends of Medicare and others have already spoken out at length about the problems with the government’s Alberta Surgical Initiative and their unfounded claims that privatization will improve surgical wait times.  

“This has never been about improving access or shortening waitlists, it’s about guaranteeing long-term profits to private, for-profit surgical centres,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “The Minister repeatedly stating that these are ‘publicly-funded’ surgeries doesn’t change the fact our public health care dollars are being used to subsidize private profit, instead of going towards frontline care.”

Alberta is in a health care staffing crisis. Over 30 hospitals and health care facilities across the province are facing temporary closures right now, while Albertans are waiting even longer for ambulances, in Emergency Departments and to access a family doctor due to a shortage of skilled health care workers.

“Today’s announcement increasing the use of for-profit surgical centres in Calgary will only make our health care staffing challenges worse” said Gallaway. “Expanding private surgical centres doesn’t create more surgeons or nurses, it simply moves our limited staff around while further fragmenting the system.”

Despite what the Minister may claim, delivery matters when it comes to our health care. As we’ve seen in Alberta and across the country, privatization does not improve wait times in the long-term, nor does it improve patient care. Already this year, the partial privatization of community labs to DynaLIFE is creating chaos and delays for Albertans.

“Simply put, this is a means of handing over an important public good to the private sector, whose desire to increase profits far too often negatively impacts working conditions for health care workers, and patient needs and safety,” said Gallaway. “Once again, this government is making it clear that they are more concerned with private profits than they are with protecting and strengthening our existing public health care system to ensure that everyone has timely, quality access to the health care they need.”

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