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

$15 million central Alberta mansion still on market

One of the most expensive Lacombe County residences is still on the… Continue reading

Two contentious Red Deer land rezonings are moved ahead by city council

Gunn Street and 51 Street land rezonings discussed

Open house on proposed addictions treatment centre to be held at former Red Deer nightclub

Community is invited to learn more about the $2-million project on May 2

Sri Lanka expats wait to reconnect amid social media block

NEW YORK — Viji Devadas hasn’t heard from her nephew in Sri… Continue reading

US expands probe into air bag failures to 12.3M vehicles

DETROIT — U.S. auto safety regulators have expanded an investigation into malfunctioning… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Family: A potpourri of Easter egg hunts, music and politics

The election is a thing of the past. Albertans have spoken. They… Continue reading

Sri Lankan-Canadians mourn victims of terrorist attack in their homeland

Sri Lankan-Canadians were gathering Monday to mourn those killed in a massive… Continue reading

Residents along Saint John River told to remain on alert as floodwaters rise

FREDERICTON — People who live along New Brunswick’s Saint John River are… Continue reading

Prince Edward Island voters to cast verdict on new electoral system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are expected to learn late Tuesday whether the cradle… Continue reading

Most Read