NDP health critic concerned about Red Deer hospital expansion’s future

Lack of significant hospital funding in budget could slow momentum, says NDP

NDP health critic David Shepherd fears that Premier Jason Kenney’s budget will halt momentum that had been building for Red Deer hospital expansion.

Shepherd said he was disappointed that the Red Deer hospital expansion did not get more funding to move the project forward.

In 2018, the NDP government provided $1 million to begin planning the hospital expansion, which would include a lab for cardiac catheterization, a medical procedure that saves lives after heart attacks.

However, Thursday’s budget did not set aside any significant funding towards upgrading the hospital.

“It’s problematic that we just get the ball rolling and, like with so many things with this government, they just come in and put a stop to it,” said Shepherd on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said while the city was disappointed funding for hospital expansion was not in the budget, she expected money would be included in next spring’s budget.

Veer said Red Deer’s hospital is in line to get a share, along with two other hospitals, of $1 million in planning funds.

Local doctors, who have been vocal about the need for better facilities, expressed disappointment, but were pleased that planning dollars were available.

Shepherd said it’s difficult to say if local optimism is justified that hospital money could be coming in future budgets.

“When we see the government choosing to, in fact, pull back on capital spending across the province, and indeed, pull back on funding for municipalities and infrastructure in general, it does concern me that they may choose not to move forward.”

NDP Leader Rachel Notley was critical of the government’s plan to give corporations a $4.5-billion tax break, while making tax changes that will cost Albertans $600 million more over the next four years.

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