EDMONTON—Premier Danielle Smith and newly appointed Alberta Health Services (AHS) Administrator Dr. Cowell must invest in publicly delivered health care or risk further destabilizing the system, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
According to AUPE President Guy Smith, the new premier’s approach to fixing health care will fail if it does not focus on improving publicly delivered services.
“Thousands of AUPE members work on the front-lines of health care in this province,” says Smith. “They need support, security, and stability, not the chaos that could result from a change in administration and direction.”
The premier, alongside Dr. Cowell and Health Minister Jason Copping, announced they will work to address Emergency Medical Services wait times, emergency room wait times, surgery wait times, as well as develop long-term reforms.
Smith says all the government’s possible solutions must reinforce our existing public system and consider the perspectives of front-line workers.
“It is good to hear the premier wants more decisions made regionally, at the local level. But those decisions must include input from the front-line workers who know what the real issues are and what should be done,” says Smith.
“Bringing in more health care professionals to boost staffing levels is a welcome initiative as well, but more needs to be done to help staff who are already here. We must do more to retain staff and prevent burnout.”
While these are real issues that must be addressed, President Smith fears the government may use them as excuses for limiting available services and further health care privatization.
“Privatization is not the antidote for what ails our health care system. If the new premier wants to help, she must start by investing in public health care for all, not just those who can pay thousands of dollars to jump the queue.”
AUPE is western Canada’s largest union with over 98,000 members, nearly 58,000 of whom work in health care services.
AUPE President Guy Smith is available for comment.
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