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Friday, May 16, 2008

c is for centralization in health care.

Centralization seems to be the word of the day as Tory Health Minister Ron Liepert has disolved Alberta's nine-regional health authorities, as well as the Alberta Cancer Board, Alberta Mental Health Board and Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, into one super mega health board - the Alberta Health Services Board.

What does this mean? Other than having a lot of former Tory patronage appointees looking for new jobs, it probably won't change a lot for most Albertans. The new interim board will be made up of six new appointees including former Tory MP Ken Hughes and Klein-era Minister Jack Ady.

I have a three mains thoughts on move:

- This mega superboard could potentially ease the flow of medical information across Alberta, making it easier for Albertans in rural areas to access medical facilities in urban areas and vice-versa.

- By removing regional authority over decision making, decisions affecting local health care provision could be affected by a far-removed board that may not be in touch with local needs.

- Having not been mentioned anywhere in the Alberta PC election platform two months ago, you really have to wonder kind of mandate the Tories think Albertans gave them for the next four years. 72 seats = blank cheque.
In the medium-term, I don't think this will produce any large changes for Albertans who need access to the health care system. By dissolving the regional boards, the provincial government looks like it's taking some direct responsibility over health care, rather than hiding behind the decisions of hand-picked appointed boards.

See AGRDT and the Edmonton Journal for more.

UPDATE: Bill Given has some thoughts on how this change could affect cities like Grande Prairie.


Anonymous said...

I think Albertan's expect the government to fix health care problems - and the regional health boards have been problems for years - without having to call an election everytime they need to make a decision.

foottothefire said...

Dave, This process was underway a long time pror to the election. THe process WILL involve firing front line employee's; it's part of Conservative psyche; "cushy government jobs" has been a bogey man for rural Conservative Alberta.
Having an inside track to what's actually going on in clerical divisions, I can guarantee there will soon be MASS layoffs at the lower eschelons. This is a process that's been repeated over and over through the decades by Conservatives.
Our Fish and Wildlife Dept is a prime example; environmental issues and enforcement caused all kinds of havoc for Conservatives. Their solution??? If there's no enforecement there's no criminals to be caught or laws to embarrass Conservatives. So they fired the entire dept.....apart from the shell. They then turned licensing over to "private industry".
The formula is simple; if it causes Conservatives grief, make it go away.
(Anyone remember CKUA - the radio station owned by the Alberta Government whose political reporting ended up with the station being ran into bankruptcy then sold off?)
However, this situation is not entirely usual. Alberta Conservatives are now controlled by the dregs of politicaldum who collectively are hillbilly to the core. The 'consolidation' will mean big time ripples (firings) and farming out work to "private industry", who will charge more for the process but, the IMAGE?????? Well, there will be none to worry about because who's gonna report themselves for profiteering.
Watch it happen......I'm taking bets..........

Bob McInnis said...

Monsieur Cournoyer,
We don't often agree but on the impact of a governance change on the health care of Albertans - you are right on.
Centralizing a desperately disfunctional, overfunded system that doesn't provide care to patients or dignity to practitioners is really just a finger in the dike.
As in the 1960's, the system is flawed and not providing care to the sick and infirm. As in the 60's the system needs to be changed. As in the 60's there will be/is fear mongering about change by partisan self interest groups.

let's get on with making real changes, monitoring, evaluating, adjusting and caring for the sick and infirm.

Anonymous said...

foottothefire - who killed JFK?

Bill Given said...

Dave - my comment on your post turned in to this post on my blog....

rj said...

Good points. Having the local boards appointed did a lot to distance them from the actual people living in the authority districts. I doubt it will change much as most Albertans probably didn't know or care who was on their health boards in the first place. Having old boy politicians like Marv Moore and Ernie Isley complain about it probably only stengthens Liepert's move (not that he's any more virtuous than the old boys).

Until improvements are made on the ground level this won't make much of a difference.

foottothefire: how will this lead to firing frontline workers? If anything it will cut down duplication in the nine regions.