Albertans urged to send message as Kenney muzzles health professionals

“This proves Kenney and the rest of his UCP cohorts knew they had to hide the process from Albertans and, to be blunt, this is the most shameful decision I have seen in my 43 years working in health care in Alberta.” — Trudy Thomson, Vice-President of HSAA

Edmonton (06 Aug. 2020) — With the passage of the Kenney government’s Health Statutes Amendment Act, the most destructive and purely partisan attack on Medicare ever is complete.

“Kenney did it after he promised not to. He is setting the stage to sell off our world-class public health system to private interests, piece by piece,” said Trudy Thomson, Vice-President of Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE). “This is a blatant promotion of a system that puts profits before patients, which is something that we, and I believe, Albertans, will never support.”

Govt. limited debate on legislation

Even though the Health Statutes Amendment Act is likely to lead to major changes in how Albertans receive health care, the Kenney government did everything possible to limit debate and public scrutiny of the legislation. The legislation was introduced in the middle of a pandemic, when Albertans are focused on protecting themselves and their loved ones. Debate was shut down, and much of the discussion that did occur was in the middle of the night.

“This proves Kenney and the rest of his UCP cohorts knew they had to hide the process from Albertans and, to be blunt, this is the most shameful decision I have seen in my 43 years working in health care in Alberta,” said Thomson.

Privatization will leave Albertans vulnerable

In most provinces, privatized health care services had more difficulty responding to the COVID-19 pandemic than publicly controlled health care services. There are concerns about the impact of increased health care privatization on the safety of Albertans.

“Alberta’s public health system was, and is, our best line of defense against this and the next pandemic. Privatization reduces accessibility by creating multiple tiers and streams of service that only the wealthy can access. It also takes public funds meant for patients and stuffs it into the pockets of wealthy corporations,” said Thomson.

Health professionals muzzled

Health care workers have often been the ones to lead the fight against attacks, but legislation passed by the Kenney government restricts their ability to speak out.

For that reason, Thomson is making a plea to Albertans on behalf of her fellow health care professionals.

“As a group of laboratory technologists, respiratory therapists, paramedics and thousands more health care professionals across Alberta, we are asking those who value our public health system to send a message to Kenney to keep his promise, overturn his unwanted legislation, and protect our valued health system,” said Thomson.

Albertans can make themselves heard

One of the ways Albertans can show their support for public health care is with an “I ♥ Public Health Care” lawn sign: https://www.hsaa.ca/lawn-sign-order/.

Thomson is encouraging people to put up signs where your neighbours can see them and send Kenney and his MLAs a message.

“Health matters to all of us. Don’t destroy it. Let’s make it better,” said Thomson.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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