Where there’s smoke, there’s bad decisions

One of the most important responsibilities for any government is the health and well-being of the taxpayers it represents.

One of the most important responsibilities for any government is the health and well-being of the taxpayers it represents.

With the largest portion of Alberta’s budget being consumed by the health-care system, you would assume that the availability of health-care service would be, at minimum, adequate.

In Alberta, our health-care options have steadily declined in spite of the ever-increasing cost burden it has on our finances. The frontline workers we have in Alberta are second to none and they do a remarkable job with what conditions they work under.

So where is all the money going? Why are we having trouble meeting some of the very basic health needs in a timely fashion to the people of Alberta when we spend more per capita than any other province in Canada?

This past week in the Legislature, it was brought to light that a couple of Alberta Health Services senior executives Alison Tonge and Michele Lahey had put through expense claims for treatments that are not available to average Albertans. Michele Lahey expensed over $7,000 for private treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the United States for tests that are regularly not approved for the average Albertan.

These types of expense claims for AHS executives are particularly hard to swallow for Albertans Shane Wambolt, Brooke Aubuschon and Grant Ellefson, who have all been denied coverage for their life-saving medical treatments outside of Alberta. The expenses are equally hard to accept for residents of Consort who still have not had their acute care beds reopened, or the 125 residents who call the Michener Centre in Red Deer home.

We’ve all heard the expression “where there’s smoke there’s fire,” the smoke from these expense claims can be seen for miles. The reluctance of the Alberta government to investigate the smoke means we’re opening ourselves up to spot-fires all over the province. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one is something Heath Minister Fred Horne is having trouble accepting. When questions were put to the minister on these improper expenses he responded that he was not the health minister when the expenses were submitted.

Does that sound like acceptance of the problem to you? Recognizing that perhaps our current health-care system is broken and is in need of a major overhaul — would be giant step in the right direction.

Reforming Alberta’s health-care system to meet the needs of taxpayers can only be achieved with honest and principled leadership. A reallocation of where and how our health-care dollars are spent that includes downsizing of the managers that manage managers within AHS will result in a more efficient system that’s much better at meeting the needs of taxpayers.

As a member of the Wildrose Official Opposition, I’m committed to exposing the deficiencies in the system and offering solutions that will eliminate the lengthy wait times and lack of adequate care that exists in Alberta today.

For a complete overview of the Wildrose Opposition health-care policy solutions, please contact my office.

Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman can be reached via email at drumheller.stettler@assembly.ab.ca or by phone: Stettler 403-742-4284, Drumheller 403-823-8181, Hanna 403-854-4333.

— FROM THE LEGISLATURE

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