Wildrose says money for 140 new clinics can’t be found in health budget
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith says Alison Redford misled voters when she promised 140 new family care clinics during the April election campaign.
Smith was responding to remarks last week by Health Minister Fred Horne, who said that 140 promised facilities will be in addition to the primary care networks already in place, and that family care clinics will not replace primary care networks.
“It’s going to be a collaborative process. It’s not going to duplicate, or substitute, or replace. It’s about building on what we have,” said Horne.
Smith says the Progressive Conservative government it will not spend new money on the clinics, which will be paid for with existing health care dollars.
“Premier Redford must believe Albertans are pretty dumb. She expects us to believe she can build 140 health care facilities, hire more health workers to staff them, and keep all existing Primary Care Networks without spending any additional money?” said Smith.
“She needs to just be honest: Either she plans on shutting down existing PCNs and family clinics in order to pay for these government run clinics, or she is going to have to find more money to build new and fully staffed facilities – which one is it?”
According to Wildrose, the government’s own numbers say the cost of building and operating 140 government-run clinics would be $3.4 billion. By stating that these facilities will be funded within the existing health budget, many primary care networks and family doctors are left wondering if their own existing practices are on the chopping block or if the government intends on taking over their clinics entirely.
Redford has said that government MLAs will spend the summer “consulting” with Albertans about health care, holding sessions across Alberta that are closed to MLAs in opposition constituencies.
“This is a slap in the face to 714,000 Albertans who didn’t vote for her party and the 26 constituencies who chose not to have a PC MLA,” said Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle.
“Wildrose, Liberal and NDP MLAs are elected to represent our communities, just like PC MLAs are. For us to be shut out of this process is an insult to our constituents and to the well over half of Albertans that did not vote PC. Is this what Redford meant when she campaigned on more open and transparent government?”