D.J. McMillan, a Health Sciences Association of Alberta board member representing Central Alberta, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

D.J. McMillan, a Health Sciences Association of Alberta board member representing Central Alberta, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Central Albertans rally for public health care in Red Deer

Alberta’s healthcare system is at “the crux of failure,” says a representative for the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

“We’re seeing the erosion of our healthcare system being sold off piece by piece for profiteering,” said D.J. McMillan, a HSAA board member representing Central Alberta at a rally for public health care in Red Deer Saturday afternoon.

About 50 people attended the rally in front of City Hall. The event was hosted by the HSAA, Alberta Union for Provincial Employees and United Nurses of Alberta.

Albertans must have access to the care they need whenever they may need it, McMillan said.

“Over years of failure to fund the system, health care professionals are either being chased out of the province or leaving for a better opportunity elsewhere,” he said.

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“We can buy beds if we want, but we need trained professional healthcare workers in the hospitals and other settings to stand beside those beds and provide that care.

“Albertans need to know this is their system and they need to stand up to make sure this government and the next are aware that it’s their system.”

Jason Heistad, AUPE executive secretary-treasurer, said the potential for the privatization of Alberta’s healthcare system is a “huge concern.”

“It’s already ongoing in many ways,” he said, citing laundry jobs being cut at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre last year.

“For smaller centres like Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, when you eliminate jobs for public services, they go elsewhere. They go to Calgary or Edmonton. They don’t stay within the central zone.

Related:

Surgery patients continue to be diverted from Red Deer hospital

“These aren’t high-paying jobs. These individuals are making just over minimum wage. The public needs to be aware that chipping away at public services like this in central region isn’t going to help Red Deer grow as a city.”

Lori Sigurdson, MLA for Edmonton-Riverview and critic for seniors and housing, addictions and mental health, attended Saturday’s rally in Red Deer.

“It’s important that they do email and phone their MLAs and tell them of their concerns for public heath care, especially here in Red Deer, with surgeries being diverted to other places and a big lineup of ambulances last week,” said Sigurdson.

“The UCP has been attacking (healthcare) professionals since they were elected.”

Albertans also rallied for public health care in other communities, including Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, at the Same time as the Red Deer event.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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Innisfail’s Jason Heistad, AUPE executive secretary-treasurer, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Innisfail’s Jason Heistad, AUPE executive secretary-treasurer, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Lori Sigurdson, MLA for Edmonton-Riverview, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Lori Sigurdson, MLA for Edmonton-Riverview, speaks during a rally for public health care at Red Deer City Hall Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)