The Alberta Federation of Labour responded to the government health care plan today by noting that the real plan is being held under wraps until after the next provincial election, expected in the fall.
Today's announcement lacked any substantive indication of the direction they want to take health care says AFL President Kerry Barrett "The premier and health minister continue their song and dance routine. There is a lot of movement, but little forward progression. Unfortunately, the number is getting old."
"It is clear the Conservatives want to have a new majority safely in their back pocket before unveiling their real plans. Albertans deserve to see the plan now, not after an election."
Barrett's concern is heightened given that Health Minister Gary Mar refused to rule out private clinics and further expansion of P3 initiatives in health care. "They are playing a game with Albertans. While today's plan contains only vague platitudes, they continue to talk about expanded private health care. It makes me think the real agenda is yet to be released."
The vague plans for consultation are both a duplication of previous efforts, and will get lost in the activity of the municipal and provincial elections. "It is a sham consultation. All the government needs to do to find out what Albertans think is to read the Romanow report."
Barrett is pleased with the new money for Regional Health Authorities, but she notes that the new money does not address longer term reform for health care.
Barrett also noticed that the Conference Board of Canada report released by the government today focuses on the role of spiraling prescription drug costs. "The portion of our health system that is mostly private is the one place where costs are out of control. We need a pharmacare program to contain costs."
"The Premier is following the mantra 'once burned, twice shy' when it comes to health care. Having damaged Stephen Harper two weeks ago, he doesn't want to do the same thing to himself. As a result, he will hide his plans until the new year," observes Barrett.
"The Premier continues his dance routine. Too bad he has two right feet," Barrett concludes.
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For more information contact:
Kerry Barrett, AFL President at 780-720-8945 (cell) or
Jason Foster, AFL Director of Policy at 780-483-3021 (wk)