UCP passes all 30 party policies, including option of ‘privately-funded’ health-care system

CALGARY — The United Conservative Party has passed all of its policy resolutions this weekend, including a controversial proposal to potentially introduce a two-tiered health-care system in Alberta.

The party’s annual general meeting was conducted online this year because of the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the virtual meeting, UCP members voted on 30 party resolutions ranging in topics from tax collection and transfer payments to seniors’ care and labour legislation.

The narrowest vote came during Policy 11, a proposal to “support the option of a privately-funded and privately-managed healthcare system.”

According to the UCP AGM website, it passed with 52.71 per cent of the 793 votes cast.

The idea of a move to privatizing Alberta’s healthcare was recently met with opposition among some grassroots organizations in Calgary.

Luanne Metz, a member of the political action committee Eyes Forward, said while Premier Jason Kenney promised time and again not to introduce the policy, the UCP’s Policy 11 does just that.

Members of the PAC claimed the move to privatize healthcare could destroy the system.

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“We are going to have a longer wait times in the public healthcare system and the taxpayers are going to be paying more for healthcare in general,” Kate Perala, a co-organizer of Eyes Forward said last week.

“The evidence is already there from other countries if you look into it.”

‘ACTUAL RESULTS FOR ALBERTANS’

The Alberta government, meanwhile, says the new policy aims to benefit all Albertans seeking medical care.

“Our priority today is improving Albertans’ access to publicly-funded health services, including reducing wait times which have increased in recent years,” said Christine Myatt, spokesperson for Kenney’s office in an email to CTV News.

Myatt says the UCP was elected on its 2019 election platform that pledged to “maintain or increase health spending and maintain a universally accessible, publicly funded health-care system.”

“It is the 2019 electoral platform which has a direct democratic mandate, since that is what all Albertans were able to vote on,” she said. “Policy resolutions passed this weekend will help inform the development of the 2023 electoral platform. We will of course be consulting with many groups in the development of the 2023 platform.”

She added the UCP is seeking real results for Albertans and accused the Alberta NDP of doing the opposite.

“While the NDP only wants to fear monger and defend the status quo of rapidly increasing costs with longer wait times, our priority is actual results for Albertans.”

CTV News has reached out to Eyes Forward, as well as the UCP party for comment on the approval of Policy 11.

The UCP also passed proposals to establish an Alberta Pension Plan, reduce the size of government and work towards strengthening the province as a “global hub for technological innovations.”

The virtual meeting will continue next Sunday.

(With files from Timm Bruch)

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