Updated: see bottom of post!
Today Premier Redford announced if she is elected that 140 family care clinics will be created in Alberta over the next 3 yrs. Sounds wonderful but it looks like a desperation move and policy on the fly on her part for a number of reasons.
It was only a couple of weeks ago, March 22nd, that she announced 3 family care clinics that were to be built as a "pilot" project. What happened in 2 weeks to turn a small pilot project of 3 into 140?
The cost for the 3 was to be 15 million dollars, making the cost of 140 ( if you believe the gov't numbers which are almost ALWAYS wrong) to be 700 million dollars. 700 million dollars that were NOT in the budget and which will make Redford's promises on a surplus next year all but impossible to keep. ( Don't forget that pre-election spending spree of at least $182 million un-budgeted dollars as well)
Also, how does 700 billion in new spending fit into Bill 1, the 'results based' budgeting bill where all money spend was to be evaluated based on results? This was entirely possible with the 3 'pilot' clinics, but to jump to 140 without knowing if the results does not exactly fit with what Redford passed as law in Alberta.
And lastly and perhaps the most important of all: Where will all the doctors, nurses and other staff come from to staff these 140 clinics? We already have a known doctor shortage in this province and now with the gov't deciding to open 140 clinics, where will these doctors come from? Will they decide to close their private offices to work in a government run clinic, creating other problems? The same can be said about nurses, who currently find themselves often working short due to staff shortages in our existing hospitals and it is already creating undue stresses on the staff and the system. Where are we planning to get enough nurses to not only fix the existing shortages but also staff 140 new clinics?
It's more policy on the fly from a premier scrambling to stem the bad poll numbers with only 2 weeks to go before the election and the possible end of a 41 year political dynasty.
Update: Redford claims that the new clinics can be funded with existing money from AHS and will not cost any additional money. How is that even possible? You would have to reduce money going somewhere else and the PCs never cut anything so where would it come from, and that does not even get into the issue of staffing the new clinics unless of course they plan to move existing staff out of hospitals and into the clinics!!!
To put it nicely the claim that this will not cost any additional cash is BS.
Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Linda Slocombe: Tory party campaign promise also goes against the Health Quality Council of Alberta recommendation earlier this year that the government undertake no further major re-structuring of the health-care system without a clear rationale, a transition plan and consultation.
Wildrose press release on the issue.