Politics
Cuts to health care will have consequences: Alberta union

Elisabeth Ballermann, the president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

Credits: AgenceQMI

JACKIE L. LARSON | QMI AGENCY

EDMONTON -- The government's travelling a dangerous road of health-care cuts, Alberta's health-care union said Wednesday.

"There are worrying signs that point to vital health-care services being cut again, and we all know that when health care is cut, patients bleed," said Elisabeth Ballermann, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, representing 23,000 paramedical, technical, professional and support workers.

Ballermann cited Finance Minister Doug Horner's warning of "tough choices" in the March 7 budget.

"Furthermore, our health minister has indicated the province is unlikely to meet its commitment to increase health-care funding by 4.5% next year and, shockingly, Alberta Health Services chair Stephen Lockwood says he's fine with that," she said.

They should ask Albertans awaiting emergency care or ambulances before cutting service, she said.

The EMS system's stretched to breaking lately, due in part to cuts already made, Ballermann said, adding Alberta Health Services (AHS) is seeking savings of $185 million and EMS overtime's been slashed.

"The so-called search for inefficiencies is already endangering Albertans. How much worse will it be when we hear the next budget and the AHS looks to cut even more?" she said.

A Health Quality Council of Alberta report on EMS strain's due Jan. 31.

"We pointed out problems with EMS response times, lack of resources, inadequate equipment and difficulties with dispatch," Ballermann said.

"Alberta Health Services took action and the situation improved for a while. However, with the existing cash squeeze and the threat of an even greater cuts coming from the next budget, it doesn't take a clairvoyant to see more problems ahead."

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