Episode underscores HSAA position in demanding action now to deal with provincial ER crisis.
Edmonton (24 Nov. 2010) - The Stelmach government has booted physician Raj Sherman out of its Conservative caucus for breaking ranks to join other Alberta doctors in declaring an overcrowding crisis in provincial emergency rooms.
Sherman, who still works weekend shifts in emergency, called the move "disappointing" but said he would continue to sit in the legislature as an independent.
Last week, Sherman wrote an e-mail saying he could "no longer support the health care decisions made" by his government.
He followed this with a stinging rebuke of Ron Liepert, a former health minister and the current Alberta energy minister. The government called the ouster "an issue of caucus discipline."
Sherman was the second MLA to be kicked out of the Tory caucus in the past two years.
Former environment minister Guy Boutilier was expelled last year for saying his party wasn't doing enough for his community of Fort McMurray. However, Sherman's ouster, in large part because he is a doctor, poses far too serious political problems for Stelmach and his party.
The government faces mounting pressure to overhaul the province's health system and is struggling with a perception of inaction.
Among the most vocal critics has been the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), which has been an outspoken voice on behalf of frustrated Alberta patients and emergency medical services (EMS) workers in the province.
“The situation has gotten so out of hand that we now have patients calling 9-1-1 from the ER because they’ve waited so long in hospital Emergency Departments,” Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA president, said earlier this month.
“The provincial government cannot continue to operate our hospitals with ill-conceived, band-aid approaches to emergency health care. They must act now to resolve this – not weeks or even months from now.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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
• HSAA demands action now to shorten ER wait times