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.

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

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo.)
Red Deer city council holds closed-door discussion about proposed aquatics centre

Recommended design, cost and location won’t be made public until next spring

A community gathering space was created in front of the new Red Deer Culture Services Centre before the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer’s Culture Services Centre to get additional $4.6 M in renovations

It’s one of many capital projects approved by city council

a
Rimbey man wins 100K on scratch ticket

Rimbey’s James Taylor earned a thrill of a lifetime after hitting big… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported an additional 1,307 COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Mayor
Mayor Veer appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer has been appointed an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel by… Continue reading

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney watches late in the second half of the team's MLS Cup soccer match against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Seattle. Vanney has stepped down as coach of Toronto FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo-Elaine Thompson
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Hamilton Forge FC's Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia's Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Forge FC looks to win its way into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday when it takes on Haiti's Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder competition that sends six clubs to CONCACAF's elite club tournament. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

President Donald Trump participates in a video teleconference call with members of the military on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, vials used by pharmacists to prepare syringes used on the first day of a first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine for COVID-19 rest on a lab table at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. An influential scientific panel on Tuesday, Dec. 1, is set to tackle one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic: When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available, who should be at the front of the line for shots? (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

Most Read