No health-care worker should be worried about system restructuring, says Sundre-area MLA

The province’s health restructuring plan announced this week garners mixed reviews

SUNDRE – The massive restructuring of health care in the province planned by the Smith government should not alarm area residents or health care workers, says Jason Nixon, Sundre-area UCP MLA and cabinet minister.

“No health-care worker should be worried or concerned,” Nixon told the Albertan. “We are fully committed to making sure that no frontline health-care workers lose their jobs; in fact, we are doing everything we can to refocus resources to frontline workers and to increase frontline worker support.

“For our constituents in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and our neighbours, nothing changes in how you interact with the health-care system. When somebody has an emergency, they are still going to call an ambulance and they are going to go to an emergency room. Nothing changes in that aspect.”

The changes are being made to deal with “some of the real challenges we have from a bloated Alberta Health Services that has not worked well for all of Alberta, but particularly for rural Alberta,” he said.

Critics, including the 30,000-member United Nurses of Alberta, say the government’s plans are deeply flawed.

On Nov. 8, the government announced that it is overhauling the health-care system with the creation of four new provincial organizations to oversee acute care, primary care, continuing care, and mental health. The organizations will be in place by the fall of 2024.

A new seven-member Alberta Health Services board and new advisory boards are also being formed to provide direction and support.

Premier Smith says the overhaul will lead to a health system that is less complex and more coordinated while reducing wait times across the system.

“We are refocusing the health system to provide better care for generations of Albertans to come,” said Smith.

The Alberta Medical Association, representing physicians in the province, says detailed consultations will be needed as the reforms move forward.

The United Nurses of Alberta says the plan fails to address the need for more nurses in the province.

“The government has diagnosed the problem in Alberta’s health-care system as being the structure of AHS,” said UNA president Heather Smith.

“A far more serious problem is the shortage of nurses and other medical professionals, as well as beds and capacity. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

“The treatment announced by the government today is going to make the problem worse. It seems likely the chaos in the health-care system will be a roadblock to the retention and recruitment of nurses.” 

The 82,000-member Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says the government’s overhaul plan will disrupt the entire health care system.

“This is going to have a massive impact across sectors and will hurt an already fragile health-care system being chipped way by the UCP’s privatization scheme,” said AUPE president Guy Smith.

Investments planned for continuing care: Minister

The province’s Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services, MLA Nixon says the new continuing care organization will work to add more continuing care spaces, retain and attract health-care workers.

“This will impact seniors in a very significant way and I’m excited to be there in a leadership role as the minister responsible for seniors, community and social services,” Nixon said. “We are going to be very focused on making changes to the continuing care system, which at times has failed our seniors.

“There is going to be significant investments of money with an organization that is fully focused on continuing care and making sure that we care for our seniors.”

Angela Aalbers, reeve of Mountain View County, told the Albertan: “We have heard from our residents, hospital committees and volunteer groups that our health-care system in Alberta requires reform. Mountain View County welcomes efforts of the province to not only acknowledge that changes are required but also that they are willing to address those issues.

“We look forward to seeing positive results that provide better healthcare services for our ratepayers.”


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