For Immediate Release
Jason Kenney’s hollow words today (Wed., Feb. 20) on the UCP’s health-care guarantee could blow a $1.2 billion hole in health spending over two years, says the president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA).
“This was a classic performance from a political actor, full of hypocrisy, denial and dodges. The 26,000 members of HSAA have heard this kind of thing before and can see through it,” says Mike Parker, president of HSAA, the union of health-care professionals.
“Kenney only committed to maintaining spending on health – any increases will only come if they can find savings elsewhere. Well, the NDP government has already budgeted for three-per-cent increases in the next two years, so the freeze suggested by Kenney will take those increases off the table, a cut of $621 million in 2019-20 and a cut of $636 million in 2020-21 in the Alberta Health operating expense budget. Slashing that much will inevitably lead to front-line cuts as the system struggles to keep up with population growth and inflation,” says Parker.
“Kenney said there were no plans for lay-offs, echoing the language of his fellow Conservative hero Ralph Klein in the 1990s. Klein broke his promise and thousands of health-care workers lost their jobs after seeing wages rolled back by five per cent. There is simply no reason to believe Kenney this time.
“Kenney cites the amount Alberta spends on health care per person (while ignoring that spending as a percentage of GDP is one of the lowest among Canadian provinces), but blames that on the NDP instead of where it belongs – at the feet of successive Conservative governments. It was Conservatives who failed to build the thousands of long-term-care beds Albertans needed, who blew up a hospital in Calgary and failed to build or repair facilities in Edmonton, Red Deer and across the province,” says the HSAA president.
“Kenney talks about the problems created by continual reorganization, but forgets to mention that it was Conservatives who created that chaos. He talks about privatization without acknowledging the risks that private companies suck money out of care, that they treat only simple cases while leaving costly ones to the public system and that they put patients at risk when they go out of business,” he says.
“Quite simply, Kenney and the Conservative party have zero credibility on health care. HSAA members and the public know that health matters. They were fooled by Klein before. We won’t be fooled again.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Inigo-Jones, Communications Officer, 587-990-3394.