Alberta in-person public meetings on health overhaul to start Tuesday

Article content

The first of more than 40 in-person public consultations over Alberta’s overhaul of its public health-care system is set to kick off Tuesday evening with a full house in Lethbridge.

Public demand appears high less than a week after the government announced the meetings, with February sessions, including those planned for Edmonton, St. Albert, Calgary and Okotoks already at capacity.

Article content

They come after the province held six telephone town halls, beginning in early November, drawing an estimated 10,000 health-care staff.

While the government said elected representatives will be attending in person “wherever possible” — including Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon, Mental Health and Addiction Minister Dan Williams, and Rural Health Parliamentary Secretary Martin Long — it declined to offer Postmedia specific dates.

LaGrange, in a news release last week, said having a responsive and reliable health-care system is critical.

“That’s why it’s so important we have these face-to-face conversations with front-line workers, patients and caregivers about the challenges that exist and how we can build a stronger health-care system that serves the current and future needs of Albertans,” LaGrange said.

Recommended from Editorial

In early November, the UCP government announced its plan to break up the provincial health authority, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and create four new provincial bodies to govern primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health that will report to an integration council chaired by LaGrange.

Article content

Premier Danielle Smith has said she believes the mandate of AHS has crept beyond managing hospitals and into the government’s role of policy direction, and appointed a new board in late 2023 after more than one year of shake-ups at the executive level.

Smith ran on a UCP leadership campaign that blamed AHS for perceived failures during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to threaten to eliminate the middle management positions of those who don’t contribute to front-line service.

Some public health experts have raised concerns about the plan, including over a lack of details about how various agencies will work together and be held accountable.

The Opposition NDP has said the impending reorganization will create chaos, concentrate too much power in the offices of the premier and health minister, and do little to address underinvestment in and staff recruitment to the frontlines.

As of last week, the government said more than 16,000 health-care workers and Albertans have provided feedback through online engagement tools, but “more engagement plans will be announced in the coming weeks,” including with Indigenous leaders.

[email protected]

Share this article in your social network

Previous post Technology denial: Columbia Law School debunks 33 biggest myths about solar, wind and EVs
Next post GOP plan to let voters give AZ police and courts power to enforce immigration laws advances | Border News