Is American-style health care on the horizon in Alberta?
That thought was on some people’s minds over the weekend as premier Jason Kenney’s governing United Conservative Party passed a controversial health policy at the party’s virtual AGM.
Fifty-two per cent of the party’s membership voted in favour of supporting “the option of a privately funded and privately managed health-care system.”
The phrase “privately funded health-care system” is bound to set off alarm bells for many Albertans, especially as Kenney’s government continues to slash the budget of the public sector, with doctors leaving the province en masse and the government announcing cuts of about 11,000 health-care jobs last week. This follows the passing of an omnibus bill this summer that opens up Alberta’s health system for even more private influence.
WATCH: Alberta cutting 11,000 health jobs. Story continues below.
But is this latest policy directive a green light for a complete overhaul of the province’s public health-care system? Not quite, says University of Calgary associate professor Lorian Hardcastle who specializes in health-care policy and law. But the policy is still cause for concern, if you value the current system.
Here’s what you need to know.
What did the UCP vote on this weekend?
The party held its annual general meeting this weekend virtually over Zoom, which allowed members to gather and vote on various proposals it would adopt for future policies and election platforms.
One was the option to support privately funded, privately delivered health care. Hardcastle says the policy directive means the government supports the idea of creating alternative health-care channels in the private space — something proponents are calling a “private tier system.”
“Under this proposal, individuals would be able to pay out of pocket, or to take out private health insurance, in order to pay for the cost of the services,” she said. “In essence, we would be...