"The investments being made now will pay dividends for Albertans in the future." — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President
Edmonton (28 Oct. 2015) — Front-line health care workers are relieved to see that today's budget recognizes the vital role they play in Alberta and the need to support the work they do for our most vulnerable citizens, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).
NDP government sets out intention to create stability in health care system
"While the fiscal challenges that face this province are large, we are happy to see the path that the NDP government is forging for health care, one that emphasizes stability and has a plan to repair or replace aging facilities," says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President, that represents about 24,000 health care professionals.
In addition to $800 million further funding in 2015–16 for health, the Notley government plans to increase health care operating budgets by four per cent in 2016–17 and three per cent in 2017–18.
Targeted investments will also be made, including
- $120 million over two years (starting in 2016-17) for new long-term care spaces
- $90 million over two years (starting in 2016-17) to expand public home care
- $10 million annually to support mental health services.
Investment in infrastructure important, but new beds require health care workers
"We support the government's capital plan to build and expand health infrastructure, which will include work on the new Calgary Cancer Centre, as well as redeveloping the Misericordia and Royal Alexandra Hospitals in Edmonton. Albertans have had enough horror stories about flooding in hospitals and aging facilities. It's time to fix these problems. We also welcome plans to expand access to long-term care and hope that plans will include a new public laboratory facility in Edmonton," says Ballermann.
"While addressing the problem of crumbling infrastructure that did not keep up with Alberta's growth, we urge the government to remember that those new beds are useless without the health care workers who are needed to staff them. This includes the many varied professions in our membership, including mental health, rehabilitation and diagnostic professionals, such as psychologists, occupational therapists and MRI technologists, to name just a few," she says.
Alberta needs to find sustainable revenue sources to provide stable funding for public services
"We think the government has struck the right balance. This fiscal hole has been decades in the making, thanks to policies that left the province relying on the roller coaster of revenue prices. This cannot be fixed in one year or one budget. Alberta needs to find sustainable revenue sources that will ensure appropriate funding for our public services in perpetuity. While the province's debt level will increase, the debt is manageable and will remain at a lower level than in other provinces, while also keeping taxes lower than in other jurisdictions. The investments being made now will pay dividends for Albertans in the future."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE