Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

UCP members pass resolution at AGM calling for privately funded health care option

EDMONTON — Members of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party have narrowly endorsed a resolution at their party’s annual general meeting that supports the option of a privately funded and privately managed health-care system that would operate parallel to the public one.

The policy resolution was one of 30 that members approved during voting on Saturday, but it passed with the slimmest majority.

Just under 53 per cent of the 793 who voted supported the resolution in favour of allowing a privately funded health option.

Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government have previously proposed privately delivered care for minor procedures, but have said any changes would still be funded publicly.

The resolution says that patients given a choice between public or private service would be able to divert themselves from public waitlists to the benefit of all patients.

Christine Myatt, a spokeswoman in Kenney’s office, says the platform the government was elected on in 2019 states the UCP will maintain a universally accessible, publicly funded health care system.

“It is the 2019 electoral platform which has a direct democratic mandate, since that is what all Albertans were able to vote on,” Myatt said, also saying that platform pledges to maintain or increase health spending.

“Policy resolutions passed this weekend will help inform the development of the 2023 electoral platform. We will of course be consulting with many groups in the development of the 2023 platform.”

Myatt also noted that platform policies must also be consistent with Canadian law, including the Charter and the Canada Health Act.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled against a doctor calling for the right to pay for private health care, saying it validates Canada’s universal health-care system.

Alberta’s Opposition NDP called the weekend resolution “American-style for-profit health care” and said Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro should immediately reject it.

“If Kenney and Shandro won’t denounce this policy, it is because privatizing health care was their plan all along,” the party’s health critic, David Shepherd, said in a news release Sunday.

Shandro announced last week the province’s health delivery agency would cut 11,000 jobs, partly through contracting out of laundry and lab services. He estimated the cuts would save up to $600 million a year, but said no front-line workers or nurses would lose their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also said every dollar saved will be reinvested in patient care.

Myatt said the Alberta government’s priority is “improving Albertans’ access to publicly-funded health services.”

The party’s annual general meeting was a “virtual” event and members took part and voted online due to pandemic restrictions.

UCP members passed other resolutions that include a call for the government to make Alberta a right-to-work jurisdiction, so that no worker be required to join a collective bargaining unit in order to be hired. That resolution also included in its rationale that no employer should be compelled to deduct union dues without the prior written confidential consent of the employee.

Other resolutions called for the province to establish its own provincial police force, collect its own taxes, and to improve care for the elderly.

When Kenney ran for leadership of the recently merged UCP in 2017, he made a “grassroots guarantee” to listen to party members on policy decisions.

But a year later when party members passed a contentious resolution that would have required parents be notified if their children joined gay-straight alliances, he suggested the guarantee was more of a pledge to consult.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canada-U.S. trade faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented

Two RCMP officers observe a moment of silence to honour slain Const. Heidi Stevenson and the other 21 victims of the mass killings at a checkpoint on Portapique Road in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, April 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
RCMP under scrutiny one year after mass killing that left 22 dead in Nova Scotia

Questions raised about why it took police 13 hours to stop mass killing

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Children at the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club practice social distancing throughout the day to minimize the spreading of germs and potentially the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula
Opinion: Teach young people these five principles

At all ages, young people may be the subject of mean behaviours… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs need to think about all Albertans

I was surprised to find more than a dozen UCP MLAs were… Continue reading

Most Read