Premier challenged on health-care spending

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach’s experiment with spreading his government’s message through social media is being labelled by the opposition parties as an attempt to mislead Albertans on health-care spending.

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach’s experiment with spreading his government’s message through social media is being labelled by the opposition parties as an attempt to mislead Albertans on health-care spending.

A 20-minute Ask Premier Ed video was posted on YouTube Monday morning in which Stelmach answers questions that people had posted on Twitter.

At one point in the video, Stelmach flatly rejects a suggestion that Alberta has been cutting health dollars.

“We are not cutting health budgets,” the premier said. “Budgets will keeping increasing . . . but not at the same rate as they did in previous years.”

Stelmach makes no mention of Alberta’s health-care delivery agency and its struggles with a deficit that could reach $2 billion next year.

The Liberals said the response flies in the face of reality because hundreds of nursing jobs haven’t been filled and hundreds of hospital beds are closing across Alberta.

“There are fewer beds available, there’s longer waiting lists, there’s huge numbers of nursing positions not getting filled,” said Liberal health critic Kevin Taft.

“Frankly, it doesn’t matter what Ed Stelmach claims. People aren’t believing him.”

Taft said one of his party’s websites has drawn 500 responses from voters unsatisfied with the province’s health care.

“My 84-year-old father was admitted to the Grey Nuns Hospital, but had to stay in the emergency department for nearly four days before he could get a proper hospital bed, because the hospital was full,” says one posting.

“The emergency staff are being run ragged. We should be adding beds and staff to our system, not cutting it back!”

Another posting talks about spending cuts in long-term care facilities, where even snacks are considered extras after recent cost-cutting measures.

“Long-term care residents have now been cut off their peanut butter, creamers, and are now paying for napkins and plastic cutlery,” says the posting.

“Why not let them trade places with the inmates of our provincial prisons? If our seniors were in the prisons, they would get better benefits and care.”

NDP Leader Brian Mason said Stelmach is using social media to give Albertans “the same old spin.”

“The misleading information being provided by the government remains the same,” said Mason. “When you’re closing beds and reducing the number of nurses, you’re cutting health care.”

Mason accused the premier of playing with numbers by focusing his message on the actual increase in the government’s budget, while ignoring the cuts that Alberta Health Services is being forced to make.

Just Posted

Pot stores on agenda at Toronto city council after two municipalities opt out

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto are set to debate whether to allow… Continue reading

Police believe body found near Mexican resort is missing Quebec woman

MONTREAL — Mexican authorities have found the body of a woman near… Continue reading

Experts struggle with ethics of assisted death for people with mental disorders

OTTAWA — Experts the federal government charged with looking at whether people… Continue reading

Two Canadians detained on suspicion of ‘endangering national security’: China

BEIJNG, China — Two Canadian men have been detained in China on… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Tommy Chong says Canada’s weed legalization has kept ‘underground market alive’

TORONTO — Tommy Chong has a pass, man. While some Canadians who… Continue reading

Apple deepens Austin ties, expands operations east and west

AUSTIN, Texas — Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin,… Continue reading

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

Most Read