Mr. Clark: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Last month Dementia Network Calgary met, and the room was full to capacity. One of my constituents said that the stories she heard that day, quote, highlighted the magnitude of the gaps for care for people with dementia and their families and the lack of knowledge and understanding about dementia in our province. Now, after hearing this and other stories, I looked into whether there is a provincial dementia strategy, and it turns out that there was a thorough process that resulted in a draft report and recommendations in 2015. To the Premier: will you implement the recommendations of this report, and if not, will you commit to creating a comprehensive provincial dementia strategy?
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.
Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker and to the mem-ber for the question on the very important topic. The numbers of Albertans continuing to be diagnosed with dementia are continuing to increase, and of course those individuals are impacted as well as their friends and their family members, who care about them. This is one of the reasons why we’re investing in building 2,000 new long-term care and dementia care spaces throughout our province, and it’s one of the reasons why we are pleased to have the report. The department is working on next steps, and we will continue to make sure that we move forward supporting Albertans, who clearly deserve to be supported.
Mr. Clark: But no commitment to creating an actual strategy.
Mr. Speaker, as the minister referenced, there are approximately 13,000 people in Calgary and area living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, and it won’t be long before 1 in 10 Albertans over the age of 65 and nearly half of Albertans over the age of 90 will be living with dementia. But the word “dementia” is mentioned exactly once in the Ministry of Health business plan. I’m concerned about this government’s commitment to dementia care. Again to the Premier: is dementia care a priority for your government, and if so, why have you done so little about it?
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.
Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Absolutely, health care and dementia care supports are a priority for this government. That’s one of the reasons why, immediately upon taking government, we reversed the billion dollars’ worth of cuts that were proposed by the outgoing government. That’s one of the reasons why we’re moving forward on building 2,000 long-term care and dementia care spaces throughout our province. That’s one of the reasons why we’re investing in and ensuring that front-line services can be grown and supported in terms of helping people live in the communities that they helped to build, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so proud that physicians stepped up and renegotiated a contract enabling us to have half a billion dollars reinvested into the system to make sure that we can improve it.
The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.
Mr. Clark: With respect, Mr. Speaker, without a strategy, how do you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and if the resources are in place that you need?
The federal government is debating a national Alzheimer’s and dementia strategy, and Ontario has been proactive, recently announcing a $100 million spend over the next three years to implement their dementia strategy. This government has the opportunity to do some good and enact a made-in-Alberta plan so that we’re ready for any available funding the federal government may provide. I’ll ask one more time: why are you not being proactive and bringing forward an Alberta-based dementia strategy?
Ms Hoffman: I’ll answer the question one more time, Mr. Speaker. That’s exactly what’s happening. We are actually putting our investment where we say we will. We’re making sure that we’re supporting seniors in living in their communities, supporting their families, enhancing long-term care, home care, dementia care, and making sure that Albertans can have the supports they need rather than pushing for ideological cuts that all three conservative parties on the opposite side are pushing for. We’re pushing to make Alberta stronger, we’re supporting Alberta health care, and we’re supporting the people who live here.