EDMONTON - Albertans have lost faith in their government’s biased panels and reports, including the Alberta Health Services (AHS) review released today, which is recommending $1.9 billion in cuts to the health authority’s funding, says the Alberta Union or Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“It has become abundantly clear to Albertans that this government made up its mind long ago that the solution to everything is to cut services or hand them over to their corporate pals,” says Susan Slade, vice-president of AUPE, which represents about 96,000 front-line workers, half of them in health care. Slade is available to talk to reporters today.
“The government spent $2 million dollars to hire a private contractor to look at AHS operations and set the parameters so the only possible outcome would be in line with the UCP’s ideological commitment to destroy or disband publicly delivered care. Albertans need to ask: Is this Ernst and Young report any better or more reliable than the MacKinnon report?”
Slade adds: “If we wanted any proof that the government’s mind is already made up, look no further than the news that the AHS is seeking expression of interest to nearly double the number of private surgeries, despite overwhelming evidence that this costs more and makes waiting lists longer. Only last week, it was reported that MRI wait times doubled in Saskatechewan after for-profit options were introduced.”
In 2019, the UCP government commissioned former Saskatchewan Finance Minister Janice MacKinnon and a supposedly independent panel to review Alberta’s spending and produce the Blue Ribbon Panel report, which was used to justify deep cuts to social programs and public services.
On Jan. 29, 2020 the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) reported that the panel wasn’t independent and MacKinnon not only relied on the UCP to write her speaking points and a newspaper opinion column published under her name, but the report also used untrustworthy research. The panel was also directed to only look at the province’s spending, not its revenue.
“When Albertans hear about reducing costs, they know this government means cutting corners - and cutting corners won’t work in health care, where decisions are a matter of life and death. Albertans know that the system is stretched to breaking point.”
“AHS is planning on laying off thousands of front-line health-care workers starting in April. This year alone, Alberta is expected to grow by 70,000 people. That’s about the size of Medicine Hat. Who’s going to care for all those people?”
“As someone who’s worked as an LPN, all I can say is try telling sick Albertans that cuts are the solution. Try telling that to a senior who gets an infection from sitting too long in soiled diapers; a parent who has to wait longer for life-saving surgery; a chronically ill person whose drugs are no longer covered under their Blue Cross plan. Try telling them you blew $4.7-billion on corporate tax handouts and want them to pay for it with their health.”
For more information, please contact:
Celia Shea, AUPE communications officer: 780-720-8122