EDMONTON -The United Conservative Party’s March 5 “surgical backlog” announcement is simply the latest scalpel in the government’s larger plan to bleed the public healthcare system by funneling public funds into the private system, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“There is zero evidence supporting the absurd idea that private surgery providers are better at reducing wait-times,” says AUPE Vice-President and Chair of the anti-privatization committee, Kevin Barry. “Alberta politicians should know by now that chartered surgical clinics are a scam.”
In 2004, the provincial government awarded a contract to the now infamous Health Resource Centre (HRC), a publicly funded, for-profit orthopedic surgery in Calgary that failed Albertans. Not only was the HRC accused of costing the province more per surgery, but it cost Albertans millions more when the province had to bail it out for its fiscal irresponsibly after it signed a lease on a building that extended far beyond its contract with AHS. Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, the government sowed surgical chaos when it signed contracts with private providers. It was only after the government bailed out the businesses that wait-times dropped.
It’s not uncommon for governments to send non-emergency surgeries to the profit-seekers, while letting doctors in public hospitals shoulder the costliest and most difficult procedures.
“If Health Minister Shandro were actually committed to reducing the pandemic-induced backlogs of medically necessary surgeries, he and Kenney would invest in clinics that prioritize Albertans, not shareholders, who treat our aches and pains like a cash register,” adds Barry.
“He should invest in the public system, which is already performing these procedures. He should invest in clinics that don’t skim the wages of nurses and support staff, or bust unions to sabotage decent working conditions for profit.”
Barry says he can’t believe the audacity of this government. “Our members have been fighting this kind of contracting-out chaos ever since the UCP came to power. The message from the frontlines is clear: ‘Hands off our public healthcare, and hands off our jobs!’ Albertans need work that allows them to feed their families, pay their rent and cover their needs in retirement. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
Kevin Barry, AUPE Vice-President, is available for comment. Please contact Celia Shea, Communications Officer, at 780-720-8122