HSAA warns further cuts will put Albertans at risk

"Albertans have made it clear time after time that they favour a fairer tax system over a failing health-care system,” says Ballermann.

Edmonton (24 Jan. 2013) — Alberta’s union of health-care professionals is warning that the provincial government is heading down a dangerous road of health-care cuts.

“There are worrying signs that point to vital health-care services being cut again – and we all know that when health care is cut, patients bleed,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

“In a recent speech in Calgary, our Minister of Finance warned of ‘tough choices’ in the coming budget. Furthermore, our health minister has indicated the province is unlikely to meet its commitment to increase health-care funding by 4.5 per cent next year and, shockingly, Alberta Health Services (AHS) chair Stephen Lockwood says he’s fine with that,” she says.

“I suggest they talk to Albertans left waiting for care in our emergency rooms or for ambulances before they make decisions that will affect the level of service. Patients are already waiting months or years for treatment, our long-term care capacity is woefully inadequate and our community-care services under strain. The truth is that part of the problem has been that a squeeze has already been put on spending.”

AHS is already looking for savings of $185 million. In an attempt to address budgetary concerns, overtime has been cut for some EMS workers, which ultimately has led to fewer staff on the roads.

HSAA/NUPGE raised the issue of the serious strain on the EMS system last year. This was followed by an investigation by the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA), which is due to report to the government on January 31. “We pointed out problems with EMS response times, lack of resources, inadequate equipment and difficulties with dispatch. AHS took action and the situation improved for a while.” she says.

“The truth is that our health-care system is under-resourced because for decades the government has chosen to give unnecessary tax and royalty breaks to rich corporations and individuals. The government’s refusal to even think about fixing its broken revenue system is hard to understand. Albertans have made it clear time after time that they favour a fairer tax system over a failing health-care system,” says Ballermann.

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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

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