ggg

Opinion: Alberta’s health-care system already is being privatized

Premier Jason Kenney must make it clear: either he believes in a public health-care system like he has said, or he agrees with his party, which last weekend called for a two-tiered, American-styled system that will mean more Albertans will suffer.

Kenney’s UCP members have passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a separate, private health system in Alberta. They did it just days after the current health minister was scoffing at the media for even bringing up the topic.

Now, we’re seeing a lot of spin coming from government offices trying to suggest that the resolution will not become public policy … at least, not yet.

But Kenney has already begun to do exactly what his members are demanding. Alberta’s public labs, our best line of defence against this pandemic and the next one, are being sold off.

Public long-term care facilities, which are dealing with the pandemic much more effectively than privates, are being sold.

Tacit approval has been given for private operators to start their own surgical facilities. Impediments are being thrown up to make booking surgeries or even a doctor’s appointment in the public system more difficult.

Paramedics are chronically underfunded, leaving us all at risk of a slow response when we need it most.

Consolidation plans and service cuts are underway in rural Alberta. Layoffs in the tens of thousands of health workers have been announced and are being carried out with the goal of transitioning workers to private employers.

And yes, all of this has been underway long before “a plan” to do it was made public.

“Protecting” public health care was removed from government policy when the new Health Statutes Amendment Act was passed this summer.

Far from being a simple party policy matter, the wishes of party members to have a two-tiered system are already being carried out.

The plan to privatize our medical labs has been in motion for a year, with the first expression of interest being issued last December, before the Alberta Health Services performance review was even released.

Layoffs are not new. The Health Sciences Association of Alberta was served with notice of layoffs last November. Funding cuts for specific programs, public health and the system overall have been being made since the UCP was elected.

The shifting of surgeries from the public system to private profiteers is already being done through the Alberta surgical initiative.

This is not just a “party policy” that we are all being asked to ignore, it is already “public policy” that Kenney has imposed on Albertans, all the while gaslighting us to say it isn’t happening.

Privatizing health care takes public funds from the public system and uses them to guarantee profits for out-of-province, private interests … that is money that should be spent on patient needs.

There is no evidence that privatization of health services reduces waiting lists or saves money. This fact, which has been proven time and time again, was recently reaffirmed by the B.C. Supreme Court, when in a ruling, Justice John Steeves said about claims private health is cheaper and reduces wait times, “there is, in fact, expert evidence wait times would actually increase.”

And so, if Kenney stands by his pledge to protect public health care, he must denounce the resolution passed by his party, tell the members he made a promise to Albertans and he intends to keep it.

Either he is a principled human who keeps his word, or a liar who is willing to put the health, well-being and personal security of Albertans at risk.

He must decide.

Mike Parker is president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

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

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read