Alberta to streamline approvals for new private clinics to boost surgeries

“Our proposed changes will provide more voice and choice to Albertans and physicians”

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is proposing legislation that would accelerate approval of private clinics to get more surgeries done.

A bill introduced Monday also says the province should have more latitude to pay doctors in other ways, such as salaries, rather than just the current fee-for-service model.

“Our proposed changes will provide more voice and choice to Albertans and physicians,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said prior to introducing the bill in the house.

“They will strengthen the roles, responsibilities and accountability of our health partners, and this modernization sets us on the path to meet our commitment to build a sustainable, accessible public health system.”

The proposed legislation gives legal teeth to commitments previously announced by Shandro, including a promise made late last year to have more private clinics carry out surgeries to reduce backlogs and long wait lists.

There are 43 such private clinics — most of them in Edmonton and Calgary — performing 15 per cent of surgeries, mainly knee and hip replacements, and cataract removals. The bill is paid by the provincial government under medicare.

Many of those surgeries are recommended to be done within four months, but too many are taking longer, Shandro has said.

The United Conservative government aims to have 80,000 more surgeries done over the next three years. Some 300,000 surgeries are performed in Alberta each year.

The legislation would reduce what Shandro calls needless administrative duplication to get the private clinics approved.

When the clinics were created two decades ago, he said, the government was dealing with 17 different health authorities, which meant another level of oversight was needed to co-ordinate them.

Since then, noted Shandro, the authorities have been collapsed into one, Alberta Health Services, so “a lot of the vestigial requirements aren’t needed.”

Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said direct publicly funded is the best value for money and that Shandro’s plan will erode it.

“Bill 30 is another step in (Premier) Jason Kenney’s rush to bring (a) failed American-style model of increased private profit into our public health-care system,” said Shepherd.

“This is not patient-centred or person-centred care. This is profit-centred care.”

Shandro has also promised to explore different ways to pay doctors in keeping with a commitment to keep funding for physician compensation around the current $5.4-billion level. That represents one-quarter of all health operational spending.

The bill would give the government authority to use contracts instead of ministerial orders for alternative pay agreements, which could include salaries rather than fees for service.

The bill also calls for the number of public members on health professional college committees to increase to 50 per cent from 25 per cent.

The 50-50 split would apply to college councils, tribunals and complaints committees.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta, which monitors the health system and makes recommendations for improvements, would be expanded beyond its mandate of patient safety to include broader health service quality.

The proposed changes for physicians are set against a backdrop of acrimonious relations between Shandro and the doctors’ representative, the Alberta Medical Association.

The two sides locked horns after Shandro cancelled a master agreement with doctors earlier this year and unilaterally imposed changes to fees and billing.

The association, alleging breaches of charter rights because it was not given the option of third-party arbitration, is taking the province to court.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New hospice suite officially opened at Points West Stettler on Aug. 7th

“As soon as you walk into it, it’s comfortable which makes it easier for a guest to settle into right away.”

Much to explore at the Big Valley Historical Society Museum

Plenty of history packed into a diverse and extensive collection

RCMP investigate possible drowning at Pigeon Lake: Man and woman found dead on shore

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

134 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday

First day over 100 cases since July 31

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

13-year-old charged in death of boy, 10 in Maskwacis

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Most Read