Cancel that surgery, the price of oil's gone down!!!???

Just last year, the Stelmach government acknowledged the importance of consistent funding for public health care. Its five-year plan for moderate, regular budget increases provides the kind of stability we need to improve the health system our families depend on. But a new Premier is coming, so there’s no guarantee this promised stability will continue.

The past record is not reassuring. Our health system has been badly damaged by provincial budget fluctuations – and by the political ideology of privatization – and it shows. Too often, Albertans are stuck with long waits and bed and staffing shortages. Alberta's health system has not yet healed from the crippling budget cuts of the 1990s. More recently, the cuts and hiring freeze in 2008/09 again hurt care. Budget cuts and hiring freezes don't just have immediate effects. They impact our health care system over the long term. We are currently seeing the results of these cuts in the Emergency Room crisis, overcapacity beds and more shortages.

We all depend on our public health care. It has to be there when we need it. Albertans are ready to pay for it, because the universal publicly funded and delivered health system is the best and least costly insurance we can get. Alberta governments must respect this. Sufficient, consistent funding for health services.

By Heather Smith
President, United Nurses of Alberta

photo of Heather Smith

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