Opinion: Alberta budget fails Red Deer hospital

Opinion: Alberta budget fails Red Deer hospital

Red Deer physicians and community volunteers worked for years to bring attention to shortcomings at the region’s major hospital.

In March, it appeared the need for upgrading had been acknowledged. The provincial government included a pointed reference in its throne speech to the importance of improvements to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

On Thursday, the new government ignored the well-reasoned arguments that had been passionately presented, deciding that it is acceptable that central Albertans’ lives are placed at risk by a lack of readily available technology.

One of the city’s MLAs, Jason Stephan, describes Premier Jason Kenney’s approach to health care as principled.

“When it comes to determining what are the key health-care infrastructure priorities, that should be done in a non-political way based on the local needs and the age of the hospital and the pressure on that local hospital,”Kenney has said.

“We would make an objective assessment about which of Alberta’s hospitals have to come first on the list. But Red Deer hospital would absolutely be on our health-care infrastructure list, and we would proceed forward with that as soon as possible.”

If that were true, there would be money in Thursday’s budget to get on with long-awaited upgrades to the hospital, which include the capacity to provide cardiac catheterization.

Instead, all the project received was $1 million for planning, to be shared among two other hospitals.

It’s clear that Kenney has decided it’s acceptable that residents of our region have a 70 per cent higher death rate after a heart attack than people in Calgary because of a lack of treatment.

The government, including our local MLAs, knows the region hasn’t received the health care investment that other areas of the province have benefited from.

Health infrastructure spending between 2008 to 2018 amounted to $2.5 billion in Calgary. In Edmonton, spending came to $1.4 billion.

Northern Alberta received $999 million in funding, while the south received $451 million, according to documents obtained by the Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta.

Central Alberta received just $107 million during this same time.

“This is over $2,000 per Albertan for the rest of the province and approximately $200 for the people of central Alberta. It’s because of this that we have a significant health-care deficit and this is not going to get any better,” said Red Deer radiologist Dr. Alan Poole in March.

If health-care spending continues to flow from Edmonton to Calgary, bypassing Red Deer, then we have elected the wrong people to represent us, it was noted in September. Thursday’s budget has proven this suspicion true.

It’s all well and good to vote for people whose philosophies align with your own, but if they’re not prepared to represent you by ensuring you receive the necessary services you deserve, then they fall short in the performance of their duties.

It’s not like the government is administering a strong dose of austerity for our own well-being. Spending will be cut by only 2.8 per cent after four years. The debt is expected to be $93.3 billion in 2022, which isn’t far below the $97.1 billion the NDP had forecast.

Thursday’s budget includes increases of $100 million for a mental health and addictions strategy, $40 million for an opioid response and $20 million for palliative care.

Release of the findings of the so-called blue ribbon panel, which found Alberta far outspends other provinces when it comes to delivering services, was simply a scare tactic before presenting a budget that fails to correct prolifigate expenditures.

Among the few real casualties of the budget, it would seem, is Red Deer’s hospital expansion.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

Just Posted

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Organizers of central Alberta anti-lockdown rodeo plead not guilty

Ty and Gail Northcott charged under the Public Health Act

(Black Press file photo.)
Road closures at both ends of Red Deer next week

Red Deer motorists should expect delays with road closures in the north… Continue reading

(File photo by Advocate staff)
37-year-old from Red Deer dies in highway crash

An individual from Red Deer has died after a collision on Highway… Continue reading

Grade one teacher Heidi Dimou arranges the desks in line with physical distancing policy in her class in preparation for the new school year at the Willingdon Elementary School in Montreal, on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta students expected to return to in-person learning next week

Kids can anticipate a return to the classroom next week in Alberta.… Continue reading

This grizzly bear had been hanging out near Aurum Lodge and the Cline River area and was later killed by Fish and Wildlife, says an area resident. (Contributed photo)
Grizzly sniffing for human food west of Nordegg killed

Lodge owner reminds campers to keep all food away from wildlife

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Trudeau says he knew about investigation into general overseeing vaccines weeks ago

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he learned weeks ago that… Continue reading

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return if they meet some straightforward conditions, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirms.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canadians can drive to U.S. for COVID-19 vax and avoid quarantine, Ottawa confirms

TORONTO — Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Quebec can modify part of the Canadian Constitution unilaterally: Trudeau

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Quebec can unilaterally modify part… Continue reading

In this Thursday, April 29, 2021, file photo, giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, West Germany. Canadian environmentalists are welcoming a report from the International Energy Agency that says new fossil fuel investment must end if the world is to meet its climate goals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Martin Meissner
Canadian environmentalists happy with International Energy Agency report

Environmentalists say a report from the International Energy Agency that concludes investment… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ceasefire needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid loss of more civilians: PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is calling for a… Continue reading

A forest fire burns late into the evening northeast of Prince Albert, Sask., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis
Saskatchewan wildfire grows, forcing evacuations in the area to expand

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Dry conditions and strong winds caused a large… Continue reading

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Tam hopeful for summer even as Canada hits grim death milestone in COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA — Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says she expects… Continue reading

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alex Pantling/Pool via AP
Canadian teenager Daniel Jebbison turns heads with Premier League goal

Jebbison, 17, is the youngest player in Premier League history to score on his first start in England’s top tier

Most Read