Health act panned

Friends of Medicare says the province is back to its same old health care tricks. Brenda Corney, chairperson Friends of Medicare, Red Deer Chapter, said the proposed Alberta Health Care Act is a collection of “air-fairy” principles that won’t protect Alberta’s health care from privatization.

Friends of Medicare says the province is back to its same old health care tricks.

Brenda Corney, chairperson Friends of Medicare, Red Deer Chapter, said the proposed Alberta Health Care Act is a collection of “air-fairy” principles that won’t protect Alberta’s health care from privatization.

“We have our Canada Health Act. It gives us our principles. Just get to the work of making our system work,” Corney said on Thursday. “We’re putting all this emphasis on principles when we really need to be putting emphasis on how are we going to do these things.”

On Wednesday, Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky announced he has accepted 15 recommendations in the Alberta Health Act consultation report, to be introduced in the legislature this fall.

Recommendations include putting people first, establishing a health charter and health advocate, and a process of public engagement on health policies and regulations.

Corney said the new act, which will consolidate Alberta’s Health Care Insurance Act, Hospitals Act, the Nursing Home Act and Health Insurance Protection Act, does not guarantee protection against privatization currently contained in these acts will survive.

“These are the acts that are constricting to private health care.”

This isn’t the first time Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government has tried to dismantle Albertans’ public health care system, she said.

“They know what Ralph Klein tried to do. They know what the governments are trying to do is off-load the responsibility for care onto either people or insurance companies or private for profit places.”

Corney said the notion in the act to make people responsible for making health choices is also disturbing for the poor or homeless, for example.

“What happens to the person who’s got an addiction and has unhealthy practices? Are they denied health care? Will the doctor say — you’re 30 pounds overweight so you don’t get this treatment?”

Sam Denhaan, president of Central Alberta Council on Aging, said Diana Gibson with Parkland Institute will speak about the act at the council’s December meeting. Parkland Institute calls the Alberta Health Care Act a trojan horse for expanding for-profit care.

In the meantime, CACA members are reeling from the province’s three per cent increase in accommodation fees for people in long-term care starting Feb. 1.

According to the province, the 14,000 people are in long-term care beds who will see an average increase of $543 a year. That $7 million won’t mean much to government, but individual increases will hurt many seniors, Denhaan said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com