Alberta NDP calls out UCP for ‘chaos in healthcare’

Alberta’s opposition NDP is calling out the Alberta Government for cutting healthcare funding and for the overall “chaos in healthcare.”

In a statement Friday, members of the NDP, including Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci, says more funding is required to help deal with increased wait times and ambulance shortages province-wide.

“This crisis in our system is taking an incalculable toll on frontline staff and on Albertans,” Ceci said in a statement.

“Seventeen-hour waits at the Children’s Hospital just for kids to be admitted; ambulances lined up 14 deep outside of the hospital in Red Deer; and elsewhere; no ambulances available to respond to emergencies at all. There are hundreds of thousands of Albertans without a family doctor and constant temporary closures of rural hospitals.”

NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips says a budget cut made by the UCP cost about $1.7 billion in spending towards healthcare, all because no indexing was done.

“More than 40,000 residents in the Lethbridge region have no access to a family doctor,” said Phillips. “This has been the situation for well over a year, and it is just unacceptable.”

“We continue to be flooded with concerns from Albertans who have been unable to access the public healthcare they deserve. We read stories in the media of people waiting two years for spinal surgery and being forced to stay in Mexico to get care for flesh-eating bacteria because there were no available beds in Edmonton. This is wrong. It’s horrifying.”

Health officials have said the Calgary Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton have been operating at or over 100 per cent of their normal capacity for the past two months.

Edmonton police have had to make trips to the hospital with patients due to ambulance shortages. A toddler in Calgary was transported to hospital in a fire truck.

Read More:

The province did announce a method to free up ambulances and paramedics, which includes shuttles and taxis.

Dr. John Cowell, the official administrator for AHS, says the transport vehicles are for those who do not need medical support during transport. For those that go the route of using alternative transportation, people would have to pay for themselves.

“Public healthcare is a defining part of being Canadian. We take care of each other. If only we had a Premier that understood that and who was looking to invest in healthcare, not ignore the crisis her own UCP government created,” Phillips said.

The province has said that “help is on the way,” according to Minister of Health Jason Copping, and the alternative ambulance rides is part of the province’s Healthcare Reform Action Plan.

Its goals are to decrease emergency wait times, improve EMS response times, reduce surgery wait times, and “empower frontline workers to deliver healthcare.”

Related Video

In a statement to CityNews, the office of the Premier says the NDP has “nothing constructive” to add to healthcare.

“Our top priority is to produce better healthcare outcomes for patients and frontline workers but we will add capacity within our own budget and not make Albertans wait for Justin Trudeau. We have been absolutely clear: the response to the exceptional pressure on the system that we’re seeing this winter is a top priority and is not constrained by budget,” the statement read.

The statement says that the province is increasing the healthcare budget by $600 million this year and for the next two years, which will total $1.8 billion, and “we’ll spend more if necessary to respond to the exceptional stress on the system, including supporting Dr. Cowell in moving forward with his work to add capacity and reduce waits for EMS, Emergency, and surgery backlogs,” the statement continued.

“We’re funding record levels of home care and continuing care, 1 million more hours and 1,500 new continuing care spaces. We increased EMS spending by $64 million (12 per cent) to respond to the unprecedented increase in 911 calls. We’re performing more surgeries than in 2018-19 under the NDP, even with the lingering effects of the pandemic, and we’re funding more surgeries as fast as the system can staff up to do perform them.”

Smith’s first actions to handle the healthcare situation was to fire the 11-member board at AHS and appoint Cowell as administrator. She also cut ties with Dr. Deena Hinshaw and replaced her with Dr. Mark Joffe,

She has also been criticized for comments embracing alternative views to COVID-19 and the healthcare response from the province and AHS, and for past musings embracing pro-Russia talking points in its war with Ukraine. Smith later apologized for her comments.

-With files from Courtney Theriault

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today