Last night, following a hotly contested election in which health care dominated the agenda, Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party was reelected to a much slimmer majority government.
“Friends of Medicare would like to congratulate and thank all those who took an active role in our democracy by letting their names stand for election,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Our province is made better by this exercise in democratic debate.”
Both the current and former Ministers of Health lost their seats. The same is true for current and past Ministers responsible for seniors, who have been failing seniors in care as per recent Auditor General reports, as well as current and past Ministers responsible for mental health and addictions, including the government’s failing abstinence-only approach to the drug poisoning crisis.
“It’s telling that in an election where public health care was consistently the top issue, that both the current and former Minister of Health went down in defeat,” said Gallaway. “Danielle Smith’s next cabinet will look a lot different when it comes to all portfolios related to health care, which means this is an opportunity for new faces in government to change course and better listen to Albertans when it comes to public health care issues.”
Smith’s reelection also comes at a time when Albertans are witnessing the UCP’s health care privatization schemes fail before their eyes. Privatized food in hospitals is a disaster, privatized labs are failing to deliver, and a new report has shown privatizing surgeries has only worsened wait times and reduced capacity. All while a health care short staffing crisis continues to leave tens of thousands of Albertans without a family doctor and dozens of facilities across the province facing repeated temporary closures.
“The government urgently needs to reverse course on their privatization agenda, because the fact of the matter is that their privatization schemes have only made our health care short staffing situation worse,” said Gallaway. “And with so many health care workers openly contemplating leaving the province upon the UCP’s reelection, the Smith government needs to move quickly to show they respect our health care workers, and prioritize a plan to retain those already working so hard to keep Alberta’s health care system afloat.”
In spite of the UCP government’s record of accelerating privatization in health care, Danielle Smith ran on a much-touted ‘Public Health Guarantee’ and repeatedly promised that no Albertan would ever have to pay to access their health care. Friends of Medicare will be watching closely to ensure that she is true to her word, and will continue to fight to strengthen and protect universal publicly-funded, publicly-delivered health care for all. We encourage Albertans to join us in that important work.
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