Red Deer Regional Hospital was not considered a priority on Alberta Health Services’ 2017 Multi-Year Health Facility Infrastructure Capital Submission, which was released Tuesday. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Government criticized for ignoring needs at Red Deer hospital

UPC MLA doesn’t rule out health care privitization

UCP MLA Don MacIntryre says he’s very disappointed but not surprised much-needed expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre continues to be ignored by the NDP government.

“This government has already indicated they’re going after votes in Edmonton and Calgary and they’re spending billions of dollars of taxpayers money in the hopes that’s somehow going to buy them the next election in those two cities,” said the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA on Friday.

“Medical and health needs of Central Alberta have been not exactly front burner priorities for this government, nor previous governments, and that has been very sad.”

On Tuesday, Alberta Health Services released its 2017 Multi-Year Health Facility Infrastructure Capital Submission that listed nine priority projects — four in Calgary, two in Edmonton, one in Lethbridge, and one provincial project involving both Lethbridge and Ponoka.

Red Deer South MLA Barb Miller said she’s more than disappointed — she’s just as angry about the report as her constituents.

“When I heard we were left off the report I was just beside myself,” Miller said.

“This morning we had 10 phone calls about it and we received probably 400 e-mails in regards to the hospital in the last little while so it is a priority for Red Deer.”

She remains optimistic because two more reports are due out — the cardiac care road map from the Cardiac Sciences Steering Committee cardiac, and the Central Zone Healthcare Plan to address longer term care needs of the region.

“That gave me a glimmer of hope but I will not stop fighting for Red Deer. I’m hoping to see both of these reports soon,” she said.

MacIntryre said studies have already shown the glaring need in Central Alberta.

In 2016 doctors reported that without local access to treat blocked arteries, and the long transfer times for the treatment elsewhere, it means Central Albertans have a 60 per cent higher rate of death or disability than people in Calgary or Edmonton.

“This is a life-threatening priority,” he said.

Miller said earlier this week the UCP released a party document proposing massive tax cuts for the rich, privatizing health care, which she opposes, and service cuts.

“These cuts, they’re talking up to 20 per cent. A plan of reckless cuts could delay funding for Red Deer’s hospital for decades. It would make a bad situation much, much worse.”

MacIntryre said a significant part of the health care system is already privatized.

“I don’t think anything is not going to be on the table when it comes to looking at ways and means of improving our health care. We should not be limiting our options especially when we have the mess we’ve got,” he said.

Miller said she will continue to speak out for Red Deer and Central Alberta and encouraged people to email her their concerns about the hospital to Emails don’t have to be lengthy.

“All of the emails they send me I will be delivering to the minister of health and I welcome these emails because I want the minister to know these come from everyday people who have real concerns. When they actually see 400 emails saying all the same thing that bears a lot more weight than just telling them.

“The final say comes with the cabinet, but they do take advocacy into consideration.”

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