Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, issued the following statement today regarding the appointment of Alberta’s new Health Minister:
Friends of Medicare would like to congratulate our new Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro. We are looking forward to engaging with Minister Shandro as we move forward in ensuring that our public health care is protected and expanded for all Albertans.
Minister Shandro, a lawyer by profession, is well known in conservative circles, but brand new to health care. The Ministry of Health is the largest and most complex portfolio in the Alberta government, and Minister Shandro has a big learning curve ahead of him in understanding the intricacies of its governance and structure.
Health care is an area that requires long term planning, and the outcome of implemented policies are often not visible within election cycles. We had over 44 years of the same party rule in Alberta, during which decisions and policies were driven by a set direction that attempted to bring in privatization by stealth. While we have seen a move towards reversing some of these trends over the past 4 years, our health care system is still in need of repair following decades of expensive experiments with privatizing our essential public services. We need a government that will meet directly with front-line staff to hear first-hand about public solutions to our health care issues.
Our province has the capacity to make the necessary investments in publicly-funded and publicly-delivered health care to ensure that we will have dependable, quality health care for generations to come. What Albertans need from our government is the political will to undertake the long-term and comprehensive planning needed to address our health care pressures, and to find solutions that are founded upon our fundamental shared value of equality, and existing resources within Alberta Health Services.
We are not advocating for the status quo. We are calling for fundamental shift in health care – and the ensuing required changes to provincial policy – that will be reflective of the values of public health care, will embrace clear provincial standards to improve access to care, and will establish ways of assessing quality of care.
Friends of Medicare will be watching the work of this Ministry very closely, and we are looking forward to meeting with Minister Shandro in coming weeks to discuss public solutions to the problems facing our health care system.