Alberta's UCP government intends to scrap its centralized health service in place of four specialized departments, as revealed Wednesday.
Instead, Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be managed by provincial bodies through an integrated approach to primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health. Health Minister Adriana LaGrange will oversee the former three units, whereas Mental Health and Addictions Minister Dan Williams oversees the mental health body.
As part of the transition, the province contends access to health care will not be impacted. In fact, Premier Danielle Smith said the government will be better equipped to set targets and meet the lofty expectations for the health care system.
"The current health system in our province limits the government’s ability to provide system-wide oversight on behalf of the people of Alberta," Smith told reporters November 8. "It also limits our ability to set priorities and require accountability for meeting them," she added.
In her address to Albertans, the premier said the aim of her government remains, as it always has been, to prioritize patient health. "The current Alberta health care system is one that has forgotten who should be at the centre of its existence: patients and the health care experts who look after them," she said.
When asked how long the new system would take to fully implement, Smith said to expect a launch date sometime in 2024.
Premier Smith tells Rebel reporter @westcdnfirst she's in the process of reforming Alberta's public health care system, with a "major investment in primary care and also recruitment" coming.
LaGrange, a two-term MLA and former education minister, hailed the importance of the transition as irrefutable for the province.
"This is a huge undertaking but a necessary one,” she told reporters in the midst of revealing the new system's guiding principles - to bolster patient outcomes, support frontline health care providers and maintain transparent communication between the province and its bodies.
"We are very focused on making sure that all of these four organizations that we set up are laser-focused on improvements, on patient care, on making sure that those that are on the frontlines are able to provide their feedback to us directly," continued LaGrange.
She also emphasized the ambitious efforts to restructure publicly funded health care is not a precursor to a two-tier health care system. "I want to be very, very clear on that: no privatization, it is publicly funded public health care that we’re talking about," reiterated the minister.
Commencing November 9, the UCP will host town halls with AHS to engage with subsequent engagement for the general public expected next month, said the government.
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