Jun 24 2004
New money for health care, accelerated development of primary care centres, and new supportive-living options in rural Alberta will form the next steps of a health renewal strategy for Alberta, to be announced in detail on Wednesday, June 30.
The same day, the Government of Alberta will announce details of a plan for a dialogue with Albertans on further options to deal with challenges in the province's health care system.
These directions were announced by Premier Ralph Klein and Health and Wellness Minister Gary Mar following several weeks of government discussions.
"At the June 22 Caucus meeting, we reached a consensus that as a government, we need to respond to some immediate pressures right now, and then develop a plan to check with Albertans to see what kind of longer-term reforms they think would work," Klein said. "As we've always said, on June 30 we'll announce the details of both the immediate moves we'll be making as a first step, as well as the outline of a discussion with Albertans for the autumn. Government won't introduce any new revenue options unless Albertans indicate support for them through a dialogue."
"Our focus is entirely on strengthening the public system, at a time when substantial underfunding by the Ottawa Liberals over the last several years has put health systems from coast to coast into perilous situations," said Klein. "Canadians need to know that the health system is predicated on Ottawa paying 50 percent of health costs in this country. Today, the Liberals are only paying about 17 percent of the bill. During this period of decline in the portion of federal funding, the Alberta government has doubled funding in the last seven years or so, enabling the province to build and maintain a system as good as or better than any in the country. But there's still work to do."
The strategies to be announced on June 30 will contain the following elements:
- Significant new spending on health operating costs and health capital projects;
- A plan to eliminate regional health authority deficits;
- Accelerated introduction of full-service primary care centres;
- Innovative models of new health care complexes within the publicly funded system;
- Reintroduction of a statement of costs, available to all Albertans.
"Our government is delivering a progressive plan that takes action on Albertans' top health priority, access," said Mar. "Albertans will see more acute-care beds in cities, more supportive-living options for seniors in rural Alberta, and better access to 24-hour care across the province.
"We all recognize that the challenge to protect public health care is bigger than this one plan. This province is committed to innovation, but Premier Klein always said we would discuss the options with Albertans. That discussion will be planned for this fall," Mar said. "Only after we hear from the people will we decide what, if any, options will be implemented."