Stony Plain NDP MLA, Erin Babcock, says the Public Health Guarantee that UCP leader Jason Kenney signed on Wednesday contradicts statements he’s made in the past.
A local NDP representative has raised concerns over plans United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney has for health care.
On Wednesday, Kenney signed a Public Health Guarantee saying that if elected, the UCP will maintain or increase health spending, and maintain a universally funded and accessible health care system.
But Stony Plain NDP MLA, Erin Babcock, says this agreement contradicts a resolution the UCP made in its 2018 Policy Declaration that calls for a privately funded and delivered health care system alongside the existing system.
“[It] explicitly states that the goal is a privatized system for those who can afford to jump the line. How do you protect a public health care system when you’re making it easier for people who have money to get better health care. That takes resources right out of our public system,” said Babcock.
Searle Turton, the UCP Candidate for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain says something needs to change.
“...While they’ve [NDP] been in government, open-heart surgery wait times have increased by 50-percent, cataracts and hip replacement surgery wait times have [both] increased by 30-percent. They’re going to do everything in their power to divert from the fact that they have been pouring money into a system and getting lower-and-lower results,” said Turton.
Babcock calls it an ‘Americanized’ structure.
“It [privatized health care] is something that goes against everything as Canadians and as Albertans, that we feel so strongly about; being able to access that public health care system. Moving forward…we need to be able to access the best care we can. A two-tiered health system takes the best doctors, nurses, and practitioners right out of our public system,” said Babcock.
Turton says Babcock’s statement is exaggerating the issue.
“This just strikes me as the classic fear-mongering that the NDP have been talking about over the last couple years,” said Turton.
Babcock says as a nurse, she could see this hurting both health care staff and patients in the public system, and that she has seen funding changes create issues in the past.
“In the ‘90s we watched so many nurses leave our province and a lot of them never came back. Those who have come back say they’ll never work under those conditions again. Not having enough product to care for your patients, working short-staffed on a daily basis; these are things that are unacceptable to our patients,” said Babcock.
Turton says they’re working with staff in the current universal system to address issues.
“There’s a lot of efficiencies they [health care staff] know about… We want to make sure there’s a great conduit of ideas that come from the front line workers, up to government, so we can find those efficiencies, realize those savings and invest back into a great publically-funded health care system,” said Turton.
He says plans for the health care system are in the early stages and the UCP will be releasing its full platform during the campaign.