This fall, an advisory committee to the Minister of Health recommended that Alberta tear up its health care laws in favour of vague and unclear statements of "principles" and "guidelines."
Minister of Health Gene Zwozdesky is now considering those recommendations. The Friends of Medicare is urging all Albertans to send the Minister a message: Don't Tear Up the Laws!
Alberta's existing health care laws put us on stable ground.
Our current laws provide protections against U.S.-style private insurance, extra billing by doctors, two-tier health care and queue jumping, and private hospitals.
It is noteworthy that these protections are not contained in the Canada Health Act - they are the responsibility of the provinces. And it is these laws that Alberta is proposing to change.
Scrapping our existing health-care laws is a dangerous path for any health minister, given the way the Minister's Advisory Committee is proposing that new laws be written. The Advisory Committee has proposed that new laws put most of the details into regulation - structuring health-care laws as so-called "enabling legislation." This would put an enormous amount of power in the hands of the Health Minister.
Furthermore, it shields changes to the health-care system from public debate, as changes do not have to go before the Legislature. If the Advisory Committee's changes are accepted, private insurance, private hospitals, or two-tier health care can be brought in with the stroke of a pen, and behind closed doors.
Improving our public health-care system doesn't involve tearing up the laws. We can save money, deliver better care, and preserve the system for the future with innovations like bringing down the price of pharmaceuticals, improving primary care, and investing in prevention and promotion.
Call, write (click here for sample letter), and e-mail Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky. Urge him to consider real and lasting improvements to the health-care system, by strengthening public medicare for all Albertans. Ask him to reject the Minister's Advisory Committee recommendation to tear up our health-care laws. And tell him that Albertans want their government to spend their time working on better public health care, not trying to invent new ways to privatize medicare behind closed doors.
To contact Minister Zwozdesky:
#208 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-3665
Fax: (780) 415-0961
8207 Argyll Road
Canada T6C 4B2
Phone: (780) 466-3737
Fax: (780) 468-3359