While issues such as the proposed Alberta pension plan and the ongoing provincial-federal government feud over energy and environmental policies have been garnering a lot of attention these days, health care in communities large and small remains a top priority and concern for many residents.
Whether a memorandum of understanding (MOU) recently signed by the province and Alberta’s physicians to “collaborate on action to better support primary health care” should reassure Albertans remains an open question.
What is known is that the support and promotion of health care going forward must be a focus for elected officials and their stakeholder partners. Anything less is definitely not in the public interest.
For her part, Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange says her government is “fully committed to taking action to stabilize and improve Alberta’s health-care system” and that she will work with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) to “achieve this goal and establish primary health care as the foundation of an entire health-care system.”
AMA president Dr. Paul Parks called the new MOU an “express commitment to real stabilization and investment into family medicine and rural generalists with a firm deadline of the next provincial budget. Our family medicine specialists are the foundation of primary care, and I am relieved that the government will heed their pleas for action.”
The MOU calls for the parties to collaborate on the “development and transition to a new family physician compensation model, and “identify the short-term actions that can stabilize primary health care.”
The official Opposition says while it supports Alberta’s physicians, it has no confidence the Smith government will live up to its promises.
“There is an extreme shortage of family doctors and care physicians in this province and the UCP clearly has no real plan on how to fix that crisis,” said NDP health critic David Shepherd.
There are lot of issues facing Alberta these days – but anyone who believes health care should take a backseat to other plans is mistaken.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.