The Tories plan to move Alberta to a system of “two-tiered, American-style health care,” charge the opposition Liberals, who released a leaked document they say contains proof.
Premier Ed Stelmach denies the allegation.
This comes as critics continue to warn of an Alberta Health Services (AHS) board in disarray, with four of its 14 members stepping down over the last week.
“This premier can say what he wants but this document shows what the premier really has in store for Albertans,” Liberal Leader David Swann said Monday.
The leaked government document, titled “Alberta’s Health Legislation: Moving Forward,” describes two phases of implementing the Alberta Health Act.
Swann said he was concerned with some of the wording involving the second phase, including mention of a policy shift that would “consider private insurance options.”
There’s also mention of health-care providers being able to “opt-in and opt-out of the public health system,” but overall the government paper contains very little detail.
Swann argued the document — which also talks about the need for further public consultation before changes are brought in — demonstrates the government’s “cynical, subversive agenda to sneak two-tiered, American-style health care into Alberta.”
Stelmach said the proposed Alberta Health Act commits the province to a publicly funded health-care system.
He denied Liberal claims the government is trying to limit debate on the bill that would create the Act. The legislation was the focus of an all-night filibuster last week.
“Our government is committed to having a full and open debate on all the legislation,” Stelmach said in the legislature.
“We have had over 27 hours of debate in this House on the bill.”
The state of Alberta’s health- care system has been a hot topic in the legislature.
Four members of the AHS board have now stepped down since Stephen Duckett left the AHS helm last week. The latest is Dr. Andreas Laupacis.
“The whole, big, huge cookie is crumbling,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason. “I’ve never seen the government in such disarray, nor the health system in such crisis.”
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the board appears “on its last legs.” She called again for it to be dismantled, with a return to local health boards.
Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky said he wasn’t sure when the board members will be replaced.
“There are very capable, very qualified people who are operating the system, and what they want is to get past this, turn the page and move on to the next step,” Zwozdesky said.