June 13th, 2024

Political leaders discuss health care $

By Gillian Slade on August 1, 2018.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

Alberta’s health care budget per capita is more than most provinces, and political leaders are speaking up about the need to address it

Costs are higher in part because of the care provided and also because costs are often higher in Alberta, said Premier Rachel Notley.

“We need to bring some of that back in line with the rest of the country,” said Notley.

The opposition not surprisingly blames the government for those costs, claiming higher spending and poor results.

“The NDP health care record is spending more money but getting worse results,” offers UCP leader Jason Kenney. “We are spending 15 per cent more tax dollars on the health system but we see wait times go up and health care results go down.

“The government is spending more but families are waiting longer for access to healthcare..

Kenney says Alberta’s health budget is only surpassed by Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Yet few Albertans I speak to believe we’re getting the best in health care services. The question for the NDP is why are they spending more but getting less?”

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel says results are less than acceptable.

“Of the (provincial) revenue generated, over 50 per cent goes to health care. Our budget is about $55 billion and we only generate about $45 billion, and over $22.5 billion is for health care. That’s a scary number.”

This is despite having a younger population, said Liberal Party leader David Khan. There needs to be greater emphasis on preventive and community care and cutting bureaucracy, he says.

“We need to put an emphasis on keeping people healthy instead of just treating them when they are sick. This applies to both physical and mental health,” said Khan.

In the last election the NDP’s platform regarding health care was to provide “stability” and “public delivery” of health care. Over the past 10 to 15 years, health care spending has fluctuated, said Notley.

“It was very unpredictable. Actually I think it’s been difficult for the people within the system to properly plan for the best health care because there was only so much change and there was also so much uncertainty,” said Notley.

Minister of Health, Sarah Hoffman has been able to keep that spending line consistent, said Notley, adding she is one of the longest serving health ministers creating stability.

“We’ve certainly heard numerous complaints about excessive middle management at AHS (Alberta Health Services), which needs to be looked into,” said Kenney.

Mandel believes the province is failing when it comes to long-term-care, and claims the private sector can do this more efficiently and cost effectively.

“I support, and our party supports, the private sector being involved. It doesn’t mean the government shouldn’t be involved in oversight … to ensure that services are delivered properly … but there needs to be a strong accountability of the private sector and not-for-profit,” said Mandel.

“We can do a lot more things but right now it’s just … spending money without any measurements, and that’s really scary.”

Mandel served as health minister under the PC government from September 2014 to May 2015 when the NDP won the election. Before that Fred Horne was health minister from October 2011 to September 2014.

Ron Liepert was appointed minister of health by the PC government in 2008. Early in his tenure he did away with the nine health regions and created what became known as the AHS “super board.” It was Horne who fired the whole board when his directive to axe $3.2 million in executive bonuses was defied.

In October 2015, Hoffman announced the appointment of a new board reporting directly to her.

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