Friday Focus: The Precarious State of Healthcare

COVID-19: Surging Numbers and a Wrong Turn

COVID-19 is still a very real threat to Albertans. We see rising case numbers, and the disease is now spreading faster than it did in the third wave. The Alberta Government has adopted a “hope for the best but refuse to plan for the worst” approach. 

Premier Kenney and the UCP want us to believe we are through with the pandemic. They say that COVID is now endemic. They want to treat COVID the same way as any other respiratory virus. Consequently, they are rolling back the restrictions and the COVID-19 testing and monitoring currently in place. What if they’re wrong?

At a bare minimum, the UCP government and Dr. Hinshaw should keep existing restrictions for the time being. Better yet, they should be communicating their plan in the event cases continue to rise. 

The UCP government is out of step with scientists, medical experts and other jurisdictions across the world. Considering Alberta was one of the worst examples in North America at handling the third wave, you would hope for some humility. Instead, we see a callous recklessness to pander to the UCP base.

An Overdose Crisis

Alberta has experienced a massive surge in overdoses and overdose deaths over the last year. 

Reports show that more than 105 people died each month from drug poisoning between May 2020 and April 2021. In addition, overdose calls to EMS increased by nearly 18% from April to May. Experts attribute the spikes to an increasingly dangerous and increasingly potent drug supply. 

Despite this, the current Government strategy is failing to adequately address the problem. The small measures taken by the UCP have focused almost exclusively on recovery programs. While this is an integral part of addressing addiction, it does nothing to help those who overdose before getting access to care. 

A supply-side strategy is needed. Part of that entails getting these illicit drugs off the street. More importantly, however, is the availability of harm reduction programs. By providing a safe alternative supply, the Government can keep more Albertans away from lethal street drugs and ease them into recovery programs. The Alberta Liberals and many experts in the field have advocated for this approach for many years. 

This government must change course, or lives will be lost, and the healthcare and courts systems will be overwhelmed. 

The Precarious State of Healthcare

With COVID-19 cases and drug overdoses on the rise, the last thing you want to hear about is personnel problems in healthcare. Yet just this week, Statistics Canada reported a 63% increase in healthcare job vacancies in the first quarter of this year. This number is even more troubling when you consider this was before the proposed cuts to the wages of nurses and healthcare support workers. 

The UCP government’s antagonist approach will drive talent away from the province, and it’s poised only to get worse. With Alberta facing twin healthcare crises, the last thing we need is a shortage of qualified professionals. This government seriously compromises quality and access to care if it continues to wage war on healthcare professionals. 

The Alberta Liberals and I believe in the politics of listening and collaboration. We want to hear what you think about these and other issues. Let’s talk. Please reach out to us at [email protected] to let us know what matters to you.