Depending on whom you choose to believe, area residents should either rest assured that health-care services in the region and province will be accessible going forward or that a major health-care crisis is on the horizon for Alberta.
With the provincial legislature now adjourned, the UCP and official Opposition NDP are staking out their respective positions on health care and other issues facing the province.
Jason Nixon is the UCP MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and the minister of environment and parks. He says area residents should not be concerned about getting the medical attention they need going forward.
“They (residents) should definitely not be worried about health care, which is a priority of this government,” Nixon told the Albertan. “We have made no plans in regards to nurses and health-care people.
“As the premier said, our goal is to protect front-line services and we will continue to call on the unions to work with us to do that. Our goal will be to protect front-line services that Albertans depend on.”
NDP Opposition critic for health, David Shepherd, said he believes the government is planning cuts that will negatively impact patient care and front-line health-care services.
“These cuts will have an impact on patient care, no matter how much Minister Tyler Shandro and Jason Kenney deny it,” said Shepherd.
“Albertans are not buying this government’s decision to hand $4.7 billion over to large, profitable corporations while they make cuts to our health services and front-line care.”
While there are many issues facing Alberta communities in 2020, including dealing with tightened budgets in areas such as education, transportation and policing, it is in the vital area of health care that much of the focus will likely be found.
Whether 2020 will see Albertans well cared for by an adequately funded and supported health-care system, as the government contends, or as the Opposition believes, more and more ill Albertans will be out of luck remains to be seen.
Either way, the stakes couldn’t be higher for residents of all ages in every Alberta community.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Mountain View Albertan.