Home News and Politics Albertans and Experts Express Concerns Over Public Health Restructuring, Citing Fears of Privatization

Albertans and Experts Express Concerns Over Public Health Restructuring, Citing Fears of Privatization

Albertans and Experts Express Concerns Over Public Health Restructuring, Citing Fears of Privatization

Concerns Over Restructuring of Alberta Health Services Raise Worries of Privatization

Some Albertans are concerned that the provincial government’s plans to restructure Alberta Health Services (AHS) may lead to further privatization of the health-care system. Premier Danielle Smith recently announced sweeping changes to dismantle AHS, reducing it to one of four new service delivery organizations reporting directly to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange.

While some improvements have been made in finding family doctors and reducing wait times for care and surgeries, Smith believes more changes are necessary. She emphasized that the current health-care system has lost sight of its primary focus: patients and the health-care professionals who care for them.

The restructuring process is expected to take up to two years, with assurances that front-line health jobs will be protected. However, critics, such as Alberta labor critic Peggy Wright, argue that the government’s plans will have negative consequences for Albertans. They perceive the changes as a power grab and anticipate more chaos for patients and health-care workers.

Health critic David Shepherd agrees that the health-care system needs reform, but believes it must be done correctly. He advocates for investment in the front lines, a significant recruitment and retention campaign, and a focus on improving care. Shepherd argues that the changes described by Smith will only result in slower, harder-to-find, and more fragmented health care, ultimately leading to inferior care for Albertans.

Public Concerns About Privatization Impacting Access and Affordability

Ongoing public concerns about the privatization of health care are fueled by individual experiences and financial considerations. One resident, Dwight Gilliland, has been searching for a supported living facility in Calgary for his wife Marjorie, who requires around-the-clock care due to dementia. The couple initially sought help from Saint Theresa General Hospital in Airdrie but wants to be closer to home. However, the wait time for a space in a supported living facility has increased to six to eight months. Dwight worries that if privatization occurs, most people will not be able to afford care, as expenses for private care homes can start at $4,000 a month.

Alberta Health Services, according to Dwight, has been instrumental in finding a suitable place for his wife based on her needs. He fears that if privatization takes over, individuals will need to conduct their own research and legwork, potentially leading to challenges in transitioning from home to facility. Jonathan Schwabe, whose wife Melody is receiving in-home care after surgery, shares similar concerns. He emphasizes that government officials are not on the front lines and may prioritize profit over people, potentially compromising the accessibility and quality of care.

Experts Call for Collaboration and Integration in Health-Care Reform

Many health-care professionals acknowledge the need for improved coordination between the health-care system and the community. However, they emphasize the importance of collaboration between the government and health-care professionals to achieve successful reform. Dr. Paul Parks, president of the Alberta Medical Association, highlights the need for integration among organizations and input from local experts to ensure effective operation, especially in smaller or rural communities.

Dr. Parks also expresses concerns about the fragility of the current public health-care system. Without expert input from physicians, the proposed restructuring could potentially fragment the system further and hinder safe and timely care delivery. Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of seniors advocacy organization Canage, stresses the importance of ensuring sufficient spaces for older individuals in home-like environments during the restructuring process. She cites studies that reveal concerns about poorer outcomes in for-profit care homes compared to not-for-profit or municipal care homes.

As discussions around Alberta’s health-care system continue, it is crucial to address concerns about privatization, access, affordability, and the impact on patients and health-care professionals. The focus should be on collaborative efforts, expert input, and sustainable reform strategies that prioritize the well-being of Albertans.


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