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Commentary: Health battles on all sides

Latest battles

Health care is, and will no doubt remain, the most important public service provided to Albertans of all ages, in both urban and rural communities across this province.

No question, without adequate health-care services residents would be deeply and negatively impacted in huge and long-lasting ways.

Yet, it is over that same health-care system that bitter and protracted battles are being fought between the UCP government on one side and doctors and nurses on the other.

Whether the Alberta health-care wars will end anytime soon remains an open question. What is known is that the sides appear to be further apart today than they have ever been, at least since the UCP was elected in 2019.

Provincial Finance Minister Travis Toews recently opened a new front in the battle with an attack on the 30,000-member United Nurses of Alberta.

“I am extremely disappointed that the union leadership of the United Nurses of Alberta has rejected stability during a pandemic,” said Toews. “UNA’s overreaching and disingenuous demand for indefinite job security is a shameful effort to take advantage of a health crisis.

“It’s unfortunate that union leadership wants to force uncertainty on their members, and all Albertans, while we continue to deal with COVID-19.”

For its part, the UNA says Toews has “insulted Alberta’s nurses” and created “considerable uncertainty in the health-care system” with his comments.

This new fight between nurses and the UCP comes as the government’s months-long battle with Alberta’s rural physicians continues unabated.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the doctors need to come around to his way of thinking and embrace his health-care plans, including in the area of doctor compensation.

For their part, the physicians say they have little, if any confidence, in Shandro’s ability to do his job as minister.

As the COVID-19 pandemic goes on and on, creating huge financial, medical, social and other challenges, is it any wonder that residents are lamenting the current sorry state of government-nurse/doctor relations?

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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