Premier Danielle Smith has outlined her expectations for health care in Alberta in a mandate letter to the health minister.
In the letter, Smith outlined 11 commitments for Minister Jason Copping, including overhauling AHS, improving senior care and addressing health care staffing issues.
Copping said his first focus will be to improve EMS response times, decrease surgical backlogs and cut emergency room wait times, though he added that the UCP have already been working to improve in those areas.
Copping said the UCP also wants to localize health-related decisions and bring back a governance model like the one that was moved away from in 2008.
Things like purchasing, standards of care, funding and human resource policies make sense to be centralized, Copping said, but decisions on how to deliver care should be made locally.
“In my mandate letter, (what) the premier has indicated to me is to push down the operational decision-making to be able to ensure that we can drive innovation at the local level,” he said.
The letter also included a mandate to create a task force of medical professionals to review the last few years of health information and create recommendations on how to manage future pandemics.
Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, said the mandate letter lacked substance, focus and leadership.
“I’m highly concerned with what I see in (the letter),” Parker said. “Our system is in collapse where we have our pediatric hospitals to capacity today, and their focus is on deconstructing a health care system.”
“What we should have been doing is retaining the folks we have, and recruiting by creating a system people actually want to be part of – this mandate letter is not it.”
NDP health critic David Shepherd also criticized the plans outlined in the letter, and said an overhaul will only further destabilize the health care system and amplify existing problems.
“This plan from Danielle Smith to upend and overturn, restructure our entire health system in 90 days, in the midst of a current crisis – when parents are waiting hours, sometimes outside in the cold, for their children to receive care – is preposterous.”
“This is going to create more chaos, this is going to further demoralize health care workers, this is going to make it even more difficult for Albertans to access care.”
The mandate letter can be found online.