Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The NDP has failed to focus our health care system on its core business, and that is delivering patient care. First, it was bringing laundry services in-house at great expense. Then they decided to take over the efficient and professional outsourced lab services. The cost of building Edmonton’s superlab has doubled, and now we’re learning the impact that moving lab services in-house will have on Alberta’s bottom line. Through a document leaked today to the Alberta Party caucus, we discovered that management positions inside AHS will expand significantly when labs are brought back in-house. Not surprising. To the Minister of Health: why are you increasing administration at a time when Albertans are demanding that we save?
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.
Ms Hoffman: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that the member opposite sits in close proximity to the Official Opposition, so sometimes he might hear their accusations louder than reality. Well, let me give the reality. The reality is that we stopped the privatization of lab services to a multinational corporation. We stopped the privatization of laundry services, which are in communities throughout all of our ridings, hon. members, ridings in your communities that you represent, hospitals in your communities, good jobs in your local communities that were going to be privatized under the Conservatives. We stopped that. We kept jobs in your ridings. We’re proud to do so and to work for all Albertans because that’s our job.
The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.
Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, the new org chart for the megalab is called towards a brave new world, which seems like a fitting title given that the original book is a cautionary tale of what happens when government is in control of absolutely everything. The org chart lists 6,218 positions. To the Minister of Health: how many positions exist in labs today, and how many brand new positions will be created by moving the lab into AHS?
Ms Hoffman: Just to go on a trip down memory lane, lab services, we know, impact 70 per cent of health care decisions. Making sure we get lab results right drives good decision-making for health outcomes for patients and, of course, for the bottom line by reducing duplication. Mr. Speaker, Ralph Klein didn’t like the results of privatizing the Calgary lab services. He looked at what the reality was, and he brought those services back into a public system. Ralph Klein knew that there were too many things at risk to have patient care entrusted to a multinational private corporation. I am happy to follow that one example that he gave us.
The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.
Mr. Clark: Truly through the looking glass, Mr. Speaker, when the NDP is praising Ralph Klein.
In addition to that ballooning head count, though, Mr. Speaker, I’m really interested in what this is going to cost Alberta taxpayers. The current model undeniably works, and it won’t be improved by adding thousands of managers to an already top-heavy Alberta Health Services. Once again the NDP has set out to solve a problem that we don’t have. Again to the Minister of Health: how much do we currently spend on lab services, and how much more will your new model cost to deliver the same service or possibly worse?
Ms Hoffman: If the member thinks there isn’t room for improvement in terms of health care, I absolutely think there’s room for improvement. I think there are opportunities for even greater outcomes. Mr. Speaker, when I met with the Member for Vermilion-Lloydminster just yesterday, we talked about things like people not being able to have their lab results when they move from one part of the province to another part of the province. That certainly is inefficient, and it’s not in the best interest of patients. That’s why having one lab system that will be able to ensure that those results follow patients throughout the province is something that I’m incredibly proud of. It will be more efficient and lead to better health outcomes. It’s a win-win-win.