Health-care deficit reduced

Alberta’s projected $1.7-billion health-care deficit has been shaved — but exactly how much won’t be known until June.

Alberta’s projected $1.7-billion health-care deficit has been shaved — but exactly how much won’t be known until June.

On Wednesday, Alberta Health Services Board chairman Ken Hughes only would say it will be “considerably less.”

And that the provincial health board will be strict about health-care providers staying on budget in the future.

“You set the budget — you stick to it,” said Hughes after the health board’s meeting in Red Deer.

The promise comes one week before Alberta Health Services officially takes control of the province’s health care system on April 1.

Last May, the province dismissed all the members of the regional health boards to create the Alberta Health Services Board.

The board will be responsible for health service delivery for the entire province, along with replacing the Alberta Mental Health Board, Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.

The move to a single, provincial board was made to streamline the health system for patients and health care workers.

It’s intended to strengthen a provincial approach to managing health services including surgical access, long-term care, chronic disease management, addictions and mental health.

During the first three months of 2009, Alberta’s health-care costs came in at $2.7 billion, and on Wednesday the board approved projected expenses of $2.7 billion for the next three months.

Cuts to spending will depend on the April 7 provincial budget and what efficiencies can be created within the system through better management and savings from the amalgamation of the 12 regions, Hughes said.

The board is prepared for the enormous task, he said.

“It’s one of the most complex mergers, if not the most complex, in Canadian history.

“Twelve large entities with nearly $10 billion in expenditures.”

The scope of the integration means big opportunities to improve and the board intends to make Alberta the “gold standard” among public health-care systems, Hughes said.

Dr. Stephen Duckett, the new president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, said the board will be focusing on health-care access, quality and sustainability.

Until now, health-care service in the different regions couldn’t be compared, he said.

“They didn’t know whether they were the best in Alberta or the worst in Alberta,” said Duckett on his third day on the job.

“What we’re now able to do is take a provincial approach to actually look at Alberta as a whole and compare the performance of Calgary versus Edmonton, of Lethbridge versus Red Deer and so on.”

During the public portion of the board meeting, Hughes acknowledged the anxiety and uncertainty Albertans have felt over the last 10 months.

“Not all questions about the future are going to be answered the moment Alberta Health Services hits the ground on the first of April. But it’s my hope that things will become much clearer quite quickly over the next few months.”

Just Posted

Break-in at Red Deer business

Social media reports confirm a business break and enter in Red Deer… Continue reading

‘Rough waters’: Spill raises new questions about fast-growing N.L. oil industry

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambitious plans to dramatically expand… Continue reading

Trudeau rules out snap election call, national ballot slated for Oct. 21

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be no early… Continue reading

Canadian firm says it has found largest diamond ever unearthed in North America

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian mining firm says it has unearthed the largest… Continue reading

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Quebecers criticize western oil but buying more gasoline, SUVs, bigger homes: report

MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier is quick to reject “dirty” oil from Western… Continue reading

Speaker Geoff Regan opens the door to his apartment in Parliament

OTTAWA — One of the best-kept secrets inside the main building on… Continue reading

Baloo the cat is back at home after being mistakenly shipped to Montreal

HALIFAX — Much to the relief of his loving family, Baloo the… Continue reading

‘It’s what we do’: Famous Newfoundlanders help replace veteran’s stolen guitar

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Two famous Newfoundlanders stepped in to help an… Continue reading

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit blames media coverage for recruiting troubles

MONTREAL — Seven years after it was created, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit is… Continue reading

Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois… Continue reading

Most Read