May 24th, 2024

NDP expresses concern for quality of care under new health model

By ANNA SMITH on May 16, 2024.

The Alberta NDP caucus expressed concern surrounding the province’s Bill 22 on Wednesday during a press conference with official critics and current leader Rachel Notley.

The bill in question, which passed first reading on Tuesday afternoon, proposes changes to the current health-care system, including the transition from one regional health authority, Alberta Health Services, to a system of four provincial health agencies, focused on primary care, acute care, continuing care and Recovery Alberta, which would focus on mental health and addiction.

This bill will also enhance the role of the Minister of Health, as stated on the provincial website, by clarifying authority and ability to oversee the direction of the health-care system.

This approach, says Official Opposition critic for health Luanne Metz, will “rip apart Alberta’s health system and put a Frankenstein system in its place, one that puts Smith and her cabinet in between health-care providers and everyday Albertans.”

Metz, a trained medical doctor, claims the proposed changes will continue to pave the way for the privatization of health care, and potentially could put many Albertans at risk.

“When the outline for this plan was leaked in the fall, the identified risks presented to Smith’s cabinet included the potential to fragment care delivery, and the risk of service disruption or failure. Failure is a strong term, and language that we would not normally be using in a formal presentation. But it’s striking for the government to then carry on with that plan, it is highly disturbing,” said Metz.

Metz said she believes this bill will do nothing to support health-care workers, nor improve care for Alberta residents.

The sentiment was echoed by Notley, who proposed that the legislation will make the province unattractive to health-care providers seeking a new place of employment, worsening the shortage of skilled practitioners in the region.

“This bill gives Danielle Smith and (Health Minister) Adriana LaGrange the legislative authority to change the terms and conditions of where people work, and they are bound only by what is termed as the need to provide substantially similar jobs,” said Notley. “In no way will health care professionals want to come to Alberta for this kind of murky employment opportunity.”

This will make the shortage “explode,” Notley said, as “no one will come to Alberta if they don’t know what the job is. No one will apply for a job if they don’t know the terms of employment or even who their employer among these new four pillars is.”

Notley added she believes the government’s plan will cause the province to further struggle to retain workers, and be unable to replace those who are lost.

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