Ms McPherson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Health care costs continue to rise. In 2013 a hospital stay cost 25 per cent more in Alberta than the national average while in 2017 it cost 35 per cent more. The average cost fell by $34 to $5,992 nationally but rose by $459 in Alberta to $8,112. The Yukon reduced the cost over the same period by $835. Why hasn’t the government been able to get hospital costs under control?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education.

Mr. Eggen: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I pointed out in my last set of questions, we have moved down the rate of growth in health care spending here from 9.2 per cent in 2010 to just 2.2 per cent this year. That’s in keeping with the growth of the population. I think that’s a great accomplishment that we need to carry on. Certainly, there are measures to continue to look at for controlling costs, but that is not at the expense of health care and the security that health care provides for all Albertans.

Ms McPherson: Given that in 2013 Alberta’s large urban trauma hospitals had an average of eight patients waiting for a hospital bed per hour, which has risen to 11 this year, and given that this metric has remained stagnant at medium urban hospitals and given that the government has increased its Health budget from $18.6 billion to $20.7 billion, why have Albertans not seen improvements to their health care experience?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Eggen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, as I said, I dispute this notion that we’ve not seen improvements in targeted areas. We certainly have. There’s lots of room for improvement always because health care is dynamic and health care is most important not just for your own personal physical health but for peace of mind.

What you don’t do is like the leader of the Alberta Party, who came in here unelected and proposed a billion dollars in cuts in health care.

Ms McPherson: Given that AHS released its provincial diverse populations strategy over six years ago and given that social determinants of health must be supported by sustainable programs in the social services sector and given that every week constituents complain to us about front-line social services workers who fail to understand or respect diverse needs, when will strategies to reach out to underserved populations start collecting input that supports service improvements?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Eggen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A very good question. It’s very important that we integrate health care outcomes with other ministries as well. For example, in Education we are building partnerships between mental health strategies, between Alberta Health Services, social services, and Education. And, you know, the degree to which we can find that synchronicity, I think that you can really see marked improvements. What you don’t do, though, is blow up hospitals, blow up health systems, or talk about private health care, as the UCP has been. That’s not the way Albertans operate. That’s not the way we deliver health care in this province

 


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