NDP Opposition Leader and former Alberta premier Rachel Notley expresses her puzzlement with some UCP Government policies during her remarks to the Health Sciences Association of Alberta AGM in Edmonton yesterday (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley ripped into the health care policies of the United Conservative Party Government in a campaign-style speech at the annual general meeting of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta yesterday afternoon in Edmonton. 

Ms. Notley on the big screens at the Edmonton Convention Centre (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The former Alberta premier was forceful, focused on examples of UCP health care policy failures, and clear about what the NDP plans to change if it forms the government in 2023 or whenever the next provincial is called.

This included a pledge to hire more full-time paramedics, one of the medical professions represented by HSAA, and another to kill the UCP’s unconstitutional legislative strategy to smother unions in red tape and restrict their ability to communicate with members and the public.

Ms. Notley vowed to the applause of several hundred HSAA members in the room at the Edmonton Convention Centre to make UCP mismanagement of health care a key issue in the coming election campaign, whenever it gets under way. 

“Health care will be on the ballot,” she promised. “My team and I are determined to present a different future for health care, one that cuts the chaos and funds the front line.”

“After two years, front-line workers are exhausted, burnt out, and worried the day is coming when they can’t go on,” she asserted. “You’ve been celebrated for doing your job – and then attacked for doing your job!’

Ms. Notley after her remarks (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

So while health care workers like HSAA’s 27,000 paramedical, technical, professional and support members in public and private health care “have performed heroically” through the pandemic, Ms. Notley said, the UCP has been “a crashing failure.”

“Their incessantly ideological need to hollow out health care left Alberta more vulnerable to COVID-19, and their refusal to take the virus seriously led to a fourth wave that very nearly collapsed the entire health care system.”

This, she said, resulted in “the highest per-capita hospitalizations in Canada, tens of thousands of surgeries cancelled, and a government more concerned about vacations than vaccinations!

“Yesterday, they officially shut down the Legislature to go on a months-long exercise in their favourite pastimes – infighting and navel gazing!”

Meanwhile, Ms. Notley said, “there are 21 communities where the hospital is partially closed due to staff shortages caused by the UCP. You can’t deliver a baby in Barrhead, St. Paul, Sundre, Three Hills, Provost, Wainwright or Whitecourt. There are long wait times for children at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and actual lineups outside the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. You can’t find a family doctor in the Bow Valley, and there are 40,000 people with no family doctor in Lethbridge …”

While Ms. Notley was addressing a health care audience, we can see pretty clearly from this what will be a major theme for the NDP’s upcoming campaign. Unless, of course, the UCP somehow manages to change the channel – which will be difficult with half their cabinet and caucus, by the sound of it, lining up to try to replace Premier Jason Kenney in an upcoming UCP leadership contest, possibly even including Mr. Kenney himself. 

The NDP will argue, as Ms. Notley did yesterday, that “this failure in leadership rests not just with the premier, but the entire UCP Government

“And they know it, which is why they’re trying to put all the blame squarely on AHS.”

What’s more, she accused, the UCP is “getting ready to pull their biggest trick yet – convincing Albertans that the answer to COVID-19 is to cut and privatize health care.”

Asserting that UCP claims of a funding increase in health care are false, and that in fact the government cut the health care budget by $800 million between last year and this, Ms. Notley said the “real truth” is that “they want health care to fail in order to justify dismantling it in a way that Albertans have never seen before.” 

“At a time when we need to support front-line workers, they’re accelerating plans to reorganize,” she said. “All that means is chaos, cuts and private health care.”

“We know where this game ends. It ends in collapse.

By contrast, she said, “Alberta’s NDP is going to fight to protect public health care and if we are elected … we will reinvest in front-line health care, building new hospitals, boosting surgical capacity, and increasing access to mental health supports.

“Our health care system will be strong and public,” she went on. “We will stop the plan to privatize health care.” And, she added, the NDP will also stop chasing health care professionals away. 

Ms. Notley spent considerable time on the chaos in the provincial ambulance service, a mess she laid at the feet of the UPC. She vowed, if elected, to hire paramedics and ambulance dispatchers “who are full-time, dedicated workers,” a promise obviously popular with the HSAA audience. 

“We will reinstate harm-reduction programs that ease the burden on EMS, and better prevent those overdoses,” she said. And the NDP will put more nurses and other staff in Emergency Departments, “so when you pull up at the Emergency doors, there are staff there to take that patient.”

Assailing the government for demanding a 10-per-cent wage cut from some HSAA members in that union’s current round of contract negotiations, Ms. Notley mocked the UCP’s “fair deal” talking point in its constant sniping at Ottawa, asking, “does this sound like a fair deal to you?”

She reminded her listeners how the government used the coded language of efficiency in “the idiotic MacKinnon report,” the so-called blue-ribbon panel the UCP assembled in 2019 under former Saskatchewan New Democrat Janice MacKinnon, to justify its pre-COVID plans for massive austerity.

“You know what ‘more efficient’ really means? Lower pay, longer hours, fewer benefits. 

“When Jason Kenney says, or any of the new leadership hopefuls say, ‘Alberta is back,’ it’s pretty clear what they really mean. Back to disrespecting workers. Back to avoiding responsibility. And back to under-funding front-line care.

“Our party governs the other way,” she said, promising to restore health and safety rules, “put the ‘worker’ back in Workers’ Compensation,” and respect constitutional rights. 

NOTE: As far as I could see, not a single reporter from mainstream media showed up to cover this speech, which is why I’ve devoted as much ink as I have to covering what the woman who may be Alberta’s once and future premier had to say. If media listened to the Internet feed, there’s no evidence anyone wrote a story about it. Click here to listen to Ms. Notley’s remarks for yourself. DJC

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37 Comments

  1. These very important questions still stand. How come Albertans are still intent on believing these lies that these pretend conservatives and Reformers feed them? How do they think a private for profit American style healthcare system will be better? Janice MacKinnon likely was a Reformer, deep down. Her impersonation of Ralph Klein’s bad policies of closing down (rural) hospitals in Saskatchewan, put people’s lives at risk, like Ralph Klein’s bad healthcare decisions did in Alberta. Austerity is a foolish decision, resulting from bad policies that pretend conservatives and Reformers have, such as bad tax practices aimed at their rich corporate friends, and doing very pricey shenanigans that end up costing billions of dollars. Austerity weakens the public services, like healthcare, making the way for the excuse that it must be privatized. Also, the UCP’s very bad management of the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta, definitely hasn’t helped. It strained hospitals badly, just so the UCP could justify having private for profit healthcare come in Alberta. Mind you, the NDP in Saskatchewan had to correct extensive damage done by Grant Devine’s PC administration, but they went about it the wrong way, by following what Ralph Klein was doing in Alberta. The UCP appointed Janice MacKinnon on their Blue Ribbon Panel, and it’s not a surprise as to why. Mike Harris, the former PC premier in Ontario, was yet another Ralph Klein clone. Again, his bad policies cost people their lives. This is absurdity at its finest, but Albertans don’t care. Rachel Notley was the closest premier Alberta had to Peter Lougheed, but Albertans don’t care about having a responsible government that looks after all Albertans.

    1. I think nonbillionaires voting for austerity is foolish, but I don’t think austerity is foolish – it accomplishes exactly what the owning class desires (all for them, none for anyone else) . I think austerity is unnecessarily cruel and corrupt and unjust and does not exist because it is good economic policy, but rather because it is advantageous to the oligarchy.

  2. Wow! Just WOW!
    It’s been a long time, if ever, that I’ve heard this kind of talk from a public figure out here on the flats.
    And just to follow on with David’s Note; you just never here this kind of talk from a public figure about health care policy. It is not only diametrically opposite from the speech of the Health Minister, the Education Minister, the Environment Minister — hell, from all the various vacuous Ministers, but it is also the kind of talking and thinking that will actually begin to solve this problem. Largely self-created btw by the current mobs incompetence and ideology.
    So once the spilt milk is mopped up and the cobwebs swept away and the toadys, the cronies and the incompetents’ are replaced much will be improved. Then the real work of building a functional 21rst Century system out of the ideological spoils can begin.
    Already we can see that the 2027 election will be equally as important.

    1. Cleaning up after the ucp/Kenney fiasco will imo take about a decade. Agreed the next election will matter. I very much hope this will persuade Albertans that all elections matter.

      “If you vote for the person who says things you like, you’ll have to battle for 4 years to get them to do those things.

      If the person saying the things you don’t like gets elected, you’ll have to battle for 4 years to prevent them from doing those things. ”

      Electing the people you like isn’t just about getting what you want, it’s also about preventing things you don’t want.

  3. We know a couple of things coupled: first, the NDP has a clear plan to restore and fix what the UCP took away and broke in Alberta’s healthcare system, while the UCP will make lame excuses for what a horrible job it did securing the healthcare system during the worst of Covid, offer platitudes to the sacrifices made by doctors, nurses, and first responders (whom it threatens with pay cuts)—sacrifices they made because of the UCP’s ideologically blinkered ineptitude while it blathers euphemisms and weasel-wellness words to try to hide its bonkers plan to privatize the system —when it can’t otherwise avoid the topic of its complete charlatanism in this, its most damning performance and vulnerable assessment.

    Second, we know MSM will continue to try to help the UCP avoid answering for its galling track record—at least in its own publications—while David J Climenhaga will continue to cover the UCP’s ongoing public healthcare perfidy as well as what the NDP proposes to do about it.

    Thank you, DJC.

  4. DJC, thanks for posting this summary and analysis of Ms. Notley’s speech. The National Post, G&M, and now the Toronto Star (it would appear) are captured by right-wing conservative interests, so I get that they would want to bury the lede, as it were. You would think, however, that the CBC, which has somehow and surprisingly morphed into Canada’s de facto online newspaper, along with being a broadcaster, would find this speech noteworthy. I am surprised that they or Mr. Bennett from the Canadian Press were not in attendance.

    The sooner these UCP clowns are gone, the better. They have done enough damage.

  5. Of the usual UCP talking-points to these policies are the following …

    Healthcare: “Your bodies, your choice. NDP want to put nanotech in your bodies to make you victims of the WEF and the NWO. It’s in Revelations, people!!!”

    Harm Prevention: “The NDP want to inject poison into the homeless as part of their elimination strategy. More Jesus is all that’s needed.”

    Privatization: “NDP centralized control leads to labour camps and the gulags. You want a gas chamber? Rachel has one waiting for one, care of Klaus Schwab. This is the White Genocide!!”

    Yep. I expect the crazy to really, really, really get real in the months to come.

    Now that crazy, like Texas Gov. Abbot claiming he was lied to and mislead by his staff, whenever everyone knows Abbot loves his own version of reality all the time, is perfectly acceptable response from a government these days.

    Crazy is the current normal. Get used to it.

    1. Most people don’t know the half of government admin, so they elect politicians to deal with it—and probably half the politicians are about the same: they elect their respective leaders who then delegate policy to cabinet or its shadowy critics. During this somewhat mysterious four-year term, the political function that’s closest to the more engaging and exciting election campaign period is the parliamentary question period which typically sounds like braying, bellowing, bugling, and bawling by residents of a zoo.

      This dichotomy perhaps seems so amplified in Alberta because for most of eight decades elections were basically a rubber stamp, parliamentary majorities were domineering, and politics was somewhat dull as a result. Starved for excitement, Albertans rather looked to the federal arena, and they were instrumental in helping conservatives win the two largest majorities, back-to-back, in Canadian history. But being so close to “Les Bleus” — Québécois Tories—felt a bit too dirty for Prairie populists, so they leapt in faux indignation from the pan-Canada bed, called its tryst ‘perverted’ and its erstwhile partisan paramour a whore, and barked pious Reform to usher in partisan politics which Albertans would find more interesting.

      Since then, Albertans of the partisan right have fused provincial and federal politics, many Prairie politicians being interchangeable with federal ones —former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice became Alberta premier and former Alberta finance minister Stockwell Day became leader of the federal Opposition, for examples. So armed, Reformers stormed the Commons and, during the Liberals’ Quiet Devolution, reformed themselves into the first and last Alberta-centric federal government, and then did their darnedest to become as dull as a War of 1812 parade or Harper doing awful renditions of Beatles tunes—as if there was nothing to see, please move along (as forensic investigations later revealed, there was lots to see…)

      The CPC failed at dull despite its surfeit of dullards.Meanwhile, it intertwined itself even more tightly with the Alberta right and, together, basically form a two-pronged front against the subject of its sharpening hatred, whatever it is.

      In this evolution, the Alta-Fed alliance has been re-re-reformed to include tacit alliance with American tRumpublicanism —and, for a brief while, even with UKIP’s Brexiteers (whence “Wexit”). On the cover of Maclean’s magazine, leaders of the Canadian right-wing were portrayed as “The Resistance.” Like they say, when you meet a mountain lion, make yourself look big.

      In keeping, continuous campaigning and incessant partisan rhetoric has been liberally deployed. Given campaigning is traditionally crazier than the admin period between elections, the Alberta right-wing has managed to fill both slots with crazy and none with dull. For example, Covid is a nonpartisan, policy no-brainer, but former CPC minister Jason Kenney, now Alberta premier, could not resist making it a wholly partisan matter—and voila!—craziness! Throw in veiled threats of secession and poof!—more craziness!!

      Even civic politics blends federal with provincial in Alberta nowadays. Thus, when the combined effort of the right-wing is tallied—say, from the election of Mayor Nenshi and Premier Notley—and including CPC results in 2015, 2019, and 2021, we have some pretty crazy. To top it off, the rookie UCP which has contributed so much to federal and civic politics, has itself treated us with psephological thrills, starting with its own, sordid creation, a suspect leadership contest, then a victory, then a highly unusual by-election, then a leadership review, and now a leadership contest (TBA) and, naturally, a general election coming up. Like Loyal Opposition and NDP leader Rachel Notley wonders: if it’s all campaigning all the time, what is the UCP doing for Albertans?

      This is crazy intense.

  6. Perhaps no reporters showed up because they were exhausted from covering the UCP leadership leadership debacle. The Herald seems to only have one guy left to cover all of Alberta politics and he must be darn near 80, if not more. How he managed to avoid lay offs all these years is a mystery, but it probably involved a very fine line between credibility and towing the line of Alberta mainstream media’s very conservative inclinations.

    They probably should hire someone younger to help out, but newspapers only know how to cut, plus they probably really don’t want to cover other parties than the established conservative ones.

    Over the last decade or so Albertans have been very poorly served by mainstream media coverage here. Fortunately there are Toronto newspapers and some others that still cover Alberta, often with much more insight than the local mainstream media.

    It would be embarrassing to them if they actually cared, which I think they don’t. So the charade of Alberta mainstream media continues for now.

  7. Ms. Notley and crew need to be very careful. They need to address the problems with health care in rural Alberta very convincingly. Shortages of doctors, nurses, etc. are endemic, and the “options” presented by the UCP will of necessity and planning result in the privatization they want – “because we all need health care and something is better than the ‘broken system’ we have now”. Of course, there is no mention of who broke it in the spin being proffered. The ‘socialist’ boogey man is still real across this province!

    1. The funny thing is, further privatization would not help the rural health human resource crisis one iota, and might even exacerbate it. For-profit companies will want to set up where they can make money, and this means, basically, Calgary & Edmonton, where population density can make this possible — though not guaranteed, given the experience of the old Health Resource Centre in the former Grace Hospital during the Klein years, which ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and had to be bailed out from the public purse. (The Parkland Institute did a deep dive into this fiasco which it published in 2012: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/parkland-research-pdfs/deliverymatters2.pdf).

      For-profit facilities will inevitably draw health care professionals from rural areas to work in them, promising enticements such as better work-life balance as a result of not having to see and care for all comers at all hours of the day and night, but only cherry-picked low-risk patients booked in advance.

      Physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, & occupational therapists will be in particularly high demand for such facilities, which will undoubtedly focus on orthopaedic surgeries, which is where some of the longest wait times tend to be. There is a finite and limited supply of these professionals, and as it takes time to “manufacture” new professionals in the various universities that offer those educational programmes — universities that are themselves facing cost constraints and capacity limitations — the only way they will be able to hire them will be by poaching from the public system, either from here in Alberta or from elsewhere in Canada and around the world.

    2. All Mrs. Notley needs IMO is for half of Albertans to have enough sense to come out of the rain. But I think she does actually NEED that – having persuasive, fact based arguments doesn’t convince folks who don’t care what facts are.

      I sometimes wonder if it is possible to become addicted to emotional states. It’s true that people who are depressed for long periods are more likely to develop chronic depression (where your “normal” brain chemistry gets set to a baseline of “depressed”). Maybe people who spend 6 hours a day watching Fox get addicted to feeling angry, superior and self righteous, or their baseline “normal” gets pushed farther that way? It would explain and somewhat humanize some people who are difficult for me to relate to. Most of the modern lunatics are smart enough that they could see through the arguments they claim to believe, if they wanted to.

  8. While this speech is encouraging, it is important to remember that she promised many of these things in 2015 and wasn’t able to carry them out. They were much too timid in their governing style and they didn’t make the most of the opportunity they had. If they are to get a second chance, they will need to deliver on these promises and we will have to make sure of that. Make sure that once they get back into power that we all continue to pressure them through political interest groups and with our unions if we a member of them(I am a member of AUPE so I will be working with them on this). We also have to counteract the disinformation attempts that will come by social media and other means.

    1. I don’t think it was so much “timid” as cautious. The NDP win was so anomalous in so many ways, Notley must have been aware her government risked being a flash in the pan for some plainly irritable and impatient voters. And that’s not even taking the real fiscal pickle Alberta was in at the time (and remains, in many ways), nor the wildfires and interprovincial/federal contentiousness into account. One needs to be cautious—even hesitant—when walking on such thin ice, not for fear of falling through, but to build trust among voters, essentially from scratch, and remain a real contender in elections thereafter.

      Alberta’s only NDP government performed very well by most objective assessments—even taking into account the undeniable fact that the two kinds of right-wing governments that bookended its lone term were and are very, very poor performers—something I wouldn’t call proud or brave but, rather, the very opposite of prudent and cautious: reckless and foolish. Indeed, the NDP continues to succeed, though it lost Its first incumbency.

      We don’t need to know exactly why each NDP vote was cast in 2015 to understand that most observers—heck, even Alberta Dippers themselves—presumed the win was probably a one-off. Thus Notley had the choice whether to get in as much progressive policy, ideologically contrasting with the long-reigning right, while the getting was good while handing the UCP polarized issues with which it would hector the Dipper government and campaign against it in 2019, and likely see most of the NDP’s legislation struck down as soon as the socialists were turfed (cƒ: Barrett’s short-lived, single-term BC NDP government, 1972-75, one of the most legislatively productive governments in Canadian history: it presented the BC Socreds with a huge target, even though they kept many of the NDP’s most socialistic policies like public auto insurance and the Agricultural Land Reserve when they eventually returned to power —for two more decades) or to follow a prudent and largely non-ideological agenda that, aside from being good for Albertans, would provoke as little partisan reaction as possible by denying the UCP with the highly ideological ammo it loves to make hay out of.

      She opted for caution—indeed, so much so that many have compared her government to that of ProCon Peter Lougheed’s which, recall, supported social programs (presuming to get it done while getting oil tax and royalties was good). She also refrained from slashing programs—the neo-right UCP’s surly nostrum—despite Alberta’s deepening fiscal crisis (bitumen market price falling below breakeven and causing layoffs). Naturally it would have been preferable to win a second term, presumably because the NDP had earned voters’ trust that it wasn’t really Lenin in TC Douglas lamb’s-wool, but Notley did the next best thing: win a substantial number of seats to form the Opposition —and watch the UCP, instead, hand the Dippers the issues with which they will campaign in the next contest. Did it work?

      Poised as the NDP is to offer Albertans a real choice (really having to thank UCP ineptitude for part of that), we should count Notley’s strategy as a success, success being able to win enough consecutive mandates to get real, really needed changes done while keeping a steady hand on the fiscal tiller. If she beats the UCP in next election (which may be sooner than the “mandated” term), her government will be very much more capable of implementing policies it would have been imprudent and impolitic during its freshman term.

      I see it as anything but timid.

  9. It’s no secret that Janice MacKinnon was responsible for closing down 52 rural hospitals in Saskatchewan and credited with getting the NDP defeated by the Brad Wall conservatives according to our Saskatchewan friends. You can bet she was brought to Alberta to do the same thing here and Tyler Shandro was hired to bash doctors to try to get them to leave so she could do it. Shandro looked like a damn fool whining about our high cost of health care and trying to blame it on our doctors while promising to make it a lot more expensive with privatization. Where was the intelligence in that? Albertans weren’t dumb enough to fall for it.

    1. Yes they are that dumb.

      They do it all the time. Of course, they are told repeatedly that privatization is “reform”, “rationalization”, “cost cutting”, “improvements”, and a host of other buzzwords meant to distract the rubes.

      Every wonder why Alberta is the favourite target for scammers? They know something that Albertans refuse to acknowledge: the inestimable potential idiocy of the average Albertan.

    2. While the information about Janice MacKinnon was available to the public, not everyone is very politically knowledgeable or aware. There are intelligent people who believe the lies about the Clintons. One person I met actually believed a charge by a former Secret Service agent that Bill Clinton had sex with Eleanor Mondale (the daughter of Former Vice President Walter Mondale) even though this agent’s credibility was not that good. People who vote in this province aren’t that well informed and this is something that the readers of this blog all experience on a daily basis.

  10. Echo chamber much? All 20 of you need to look at the facts. Notley fixed NOTHING when she ran the show. Alberta already spends too much on health care and gets squat for it. I just went to emergency, they werent understaffed, but they werent doing their jobs either. As for ending privatization, thats DOESNT MAKE SENSE. Is she going to BUY all the private clinics????? Hire ALL the doctors? Does AHS plan to run Shoppers Drug Mart now???? What the HELL is she talking about?!?! Kenney is a troll but Notely is a clown. Alberta is doomed.

    1. Yes, yes, it’s easy to see why you needed emergency care: You think Alberta is doomed and you’re an expert critic of what ER should be doing for you but, as you claim, is not.

      Fair enough, in your condition, but the facts revealed by and during Covid have been fairly well concurred: Alberta’s healthcare system —particularly publicly owned hospitals—is back on its heels, the looming shortage of nurses and first responders has become reality and, as if to deliver a coup de grace, the UCP has supplied the push just when the system is at the cliff-edge. Even doctors are up and leaving for better climes—mostly within Canada and its federal Health Act.

      You’re correct: it’s an Alberta thing and it’s plain to see which political party is determined to make it worse. Even doing nothing would be better. But of course Albertans will do something about it come next election.

      Hope your headache gets better soon: it’ll be time to vote in just a few months.

    2. @EchoChamberBreaker. So can you prove without a doubt that Notley is a clown and fixed nothing when every lawyer, accountant, oilman, banker and yes former MLAs from the Lougheed conservatives that I have talked to had nothing but praise for what she was trying to accomplish? They knew that she would have gotten us out of this financial mess with what she was trying to do, but knew she couldn’t fix it in only 4 years what these phoney conservatives created in 25. Maybe you had better read what former conservative MLA Allan A. Warrack had to say about her. “ Notley has led like Lougheed “.
      Why don’t you provide us with a list of all the horrible things she did to us, when all she was doing was trying to fix the mess she inherited and there is no way she could do it with out spending money that Kenney accused her of doing. How would you build 55 new schools without spending any money, it can’t be done.

    3. If the government is in charge of health care, the total cost to the taxpayer would be:
      legit costs + bureaucratic waste, and the voters could agitate for periodic audits of the waste to keep it down.

      If the private sector is in charge of health care, the total cost to the taxpayer would be:
      legit costs + profit. The profit will always be as much as they can persuade people to pay, and there will be no mechanism to rein it in.

      Blows my mind that any reasonable adults whose last name isn’t Sackler believe privatized health care is a good thing. Who else would look at America and think, “I wish our health care was more like theirs?”

  11. Want to talk about “efficiency” in health care? There are multiple ways we can make the system more efficient without detracting from quality of care and timeliness of access. In fact, some approaches to efficiency could make those things better, not make them worse.

    Firstly, one of the major cost drivers in the system is what has been called the “just-in-time” staffing model, which provides only minimal baseline staffing and over-relies on part-time, casual, and overtime workers to cover both planned (like vacation) and short-notice (like sick calls) absences and also to staff up when care needs ramp up. The solution? Staff our acute-care hospitals properly, with some excess capacity on each and every shift to be able to deal with the inevitable and unpredictable surges in demand that occur when there is a motor vehicle collision or a cluster of heart attacks or other such emergencies — without having to call people in on costly Overtime. Will there be down times, when some people on some shifts are somewhat “underemployed” in terms of workload? Of course. So you use those times for training and skills maintenance, project work, quality improvement, etc. On a long-timeline basis, overall costs will moderate because the average cost per patient day will decline and become more predictable.

    Secondly, enhance the availability of non-clinical support staff, especially on evenings, nights, weekends and stat holidays. Do we really want to be paying an RN or LPN to hunt for supplies or a snack for a new patient admitted from ER in the middle of the night? Or to transport them to and from Diagnostic Imaging or the OR, taking them from the unit where they are probably working with a skeleton staff? Those non-clinical support staff, like unit clerks, supply porters and patient transport aides, are often only staffed on weekday day shifts, and perhaps evenings in larger sites, but there’s no good reason other than cost not to have them around 24/7/364.

    Let’s see, where else can we find efficiencies in the health care system? Primary care: get family doctors off of fee-for-service, one & for all, and get more Nurse Practitioners (NPs) into the system, both working alongside them and in their own publicly-funded clinics. Put Registered Nurses, Registered Dietitians, Mental Health counsellors and Social Workers into more Primary Care clinics, without making the physicians who own those clinics pay for them as “overhead”. The healthier we can keep people in the community, the lower our overall cost to run the whole system.

    I could go on, and on, and on, but I’ve probably already tried our host’s and other readers’ patience, so I’ll stop here. But I think you can see where I’m going.

    1. To Jerry Mac: thanks for your always interesting comments. If you were ever to run for office I would vote for you.

      To David C. Thanks for the coverage of this event and so much else. I frequently direct friends and sceptics to your site.

    2. Pharmacists should be in primary healthcare clinics as well. We can help physicians with medication and chronic disease management. A large Alberta study showed that pharmacists treat hypertension cheaper AND better than physicians. For every $1 spent on pharmacist clinical services $2.50 is saved by the system.

      I’m no UCP supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but Notley cut $150 million from pharmacist services while vilifying us. She said she wouldn’t cut front line services. But we are the most accessible front line health professionals and picked up the slack by seeing any patients who walked in our pharmacy while physicians clinics closed.

  12. Good on Ms. Notley. It has been said at various places that if she keeps the focus on the health care bumbling of the UCP, there are substantial gains in store for her. There is absolutely no hiding the fact that UCP or conservatives want to tear down unions. Over the last 40 some years they have been diligent at that. Funny how the NDP brought in public health care some time in the 1950’s? and the Conservatives have been trying to tear it down ever since.

  13. What local media? If it’s not cbc there’s a 90% chance Postmedia owns it. Even most small town homegrown newspapers are owned by billionaires. It’s not just about making a profit, it’s also about shutting down the opportunity for other ideologies to be promoted or explained.

    On Haida Gwaii, our “local” paper, the Observer, was purchased by Black Press something like 10 years ago.

  14. I went on a bit of a google, could not find this covered anywhere else, including CBC. Stick-tap to DJC for carrying this quite substantive speech. I’ve sent a nicely worded email to the CBC pointing out that nobody reported on this, and that, as a taxpayer funded media empire, they should be making sure to platform when an official opposition party makes an important, substantive speech a year before an election in a period of sustained political instability. Easy for me to understand why Postmedia didn’t cover it, CBC’s lack of coverage is very confusing to me.

    You know, if I was allowed to own 90% of Canadian media, I could have a lot of control over which events get covered and which ones don’t. I could make sure to hire exclusively people who see things the same way I do to make sure that every story was spun in my chosen direction. It seems that, if I were to do that, I would be working against the public interest. Maybe we should change the laws that allow individuals to own massive propaganda empires.

    1. Neil Lore You have nailed it. Most Alberta Newspapers have refused to print any letters that bad mouth Jason Kenney , and SUN has been their mouth piece from day one, and you can bet the so-called eastern conservatives are responsible. They don’t care that there is a huge difference between conservatives and reformers destroying this country.

  15. Terrific speech…thanks for posting. Very strong points and of interest to all Albertans if only they knew it. I hope Rachel continues to go with this message.

  16. Notley’s $150 million in cuts to pharmacist services wasn’t covered well by the media either. She promised not to cut frontline health services. Nobody is more front line than us. We stayed open and helped anyone who walked into our pharmacy when physician clinics closed. For every $1 spent on pharmacist clinical services $2.50 is saved by the system. I’d love to vote NDP, but until she admits she cut front line services, apologizes for demeaning the profession and lying to the public, and promises to reinstate our proper reimbursement, I just can’t. In the meantime I find speeches like this offensive. Sorry but a lot of damage was done.

    1. I can see you feel strongly about this, and it surprises me, I had never thought of pharmacists as ‘front-line health care,’ more as ’employees of pharmaceutical companies.’ Our clinic has a pharmacy in it, and it is owned and operated on a privately owned, for-profit basis, and as a direct result, around 20% of prescriptions are not filled, because the sick person can’t afford to pay enough for the Sacklers to make an acceptable return on their investment.

      No disrespect intended, I see this as a chance for me to learn something. Can you please cite a source for the claim that $1 spent on pharmacist clinical services saves the system $2.50?

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