30 May QP: Auditor General Recommendations on Health Care

Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week the Auditor General released a groundbreaking report on Alberta’s health care system, including a recommendation that funding should be linked to outcomes. He argues for the use of market mechanisms within a public health care system, and I couldn’t agree more. Let me be very clear. I believe passionately in public health care, and this report says nothing about privatization, but we know we need to set aspirational goals to deliver better care to more people for the same amount of money. To the Minister of Health: do you accept this recommendation, and if so, when are you going to link funding to outcomes?

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.

The Minister of Health.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the Auditor General for his report. His ideas support our push to make life better for Albertans by improving access to team-based care, integrated care in their communities. That’s why we’re better integrating doctors and supporting better care for patients through our new AMA agreement. This work is well under way. I’m very proud of it. Instead of pushing for rash, ideological cuts, as both conservative parties, three conservative parties, one conservative party want to push for on the other side, we’re making life better and working with front-line workers to do that. I’m so proud of our progress.

Mr. Clark: Mr. Speaker, I’m over here, and I’m not part of any of those parties, and I never will be, so I’d appreciate an answer to my question.

The Auditor General called for bold action, for taking a quantum leap rather than incremental changes, but I’ve seen no evidence that this government is up to the task. Albertans pay more for health care here than anywhere else in Canada, and we need leadership to ensure that we get what we pay for. Again to the Minister of Health. Your changes to date are just nibbling around the edges. Will you commit to making the fundamental transformational changes that the Auditor General called for?

Ms Hoffman: If the member opposite wants to pretend he’s not united with the other folks, maybe he should look at his own voting record, Mr. Speaker.

I have to say that we deserve better integration, and we’re proud to move forward on that, Mr. Speaker. That’s why we’re investing $400 million to better integrate and share information across the health care system, improving access to accountability within primary care networks. We have been working and making very significant progress in partnership. We’re working with health professionals, not doing things to them. I’m so proud of the paramedics who are in our audience, who are doing work around the Health Professions Act. They’re expanding their scope of practice as well, making health care better for every Albertan.

Mr. Clark: I’ll put my voting record up against theirs and yours because Albertans know there’s a middle way and a better way, Mr. Speaker.

The Auditor General also found significant overlap between Alberta Health and AHS. This is something we’ve known for a long time, and it’s certainly a legacy of the previous government. But they’re not in charge anymore, Mr. Speaker. This government is, so it’s time to stop making excuses. Again to the Minister of Health: what specifically are you doing to eliminate duplication between Alberta Health and AHS, and what metrics are you using to track your progress?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker. I am so proud of the work we’re doing, the fact that we are working together as many different parts to make health care better instead of having in-fighting between two different organizations. We’ve been very effective in moving things forward. There isn’t a parallel management function between the two organizations but, rather, a close working relationship that determines how policies will be reflected and the services delivered for Albertans. Alberta Health sets the policies. AHS carries them out on the front lines through front-line health care providers, including the paramedics who are here today. For example, AHS sets continuing care standards. AH sets them; AHS implements them. That’s the right division of power