Braid: The UCP launches a health-care upheaval like no other

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A busy entrance to the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary was photographed on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. The Alberta government is looking to cut about 11,000 Alberta Health Services jobs to save $600 million over three years. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

The Klein reform ran on the rocks because the government failed to consult the people who really know what goes on: doctors, nurses and other front-line people.

This time, the government isn’t just excluding doctors. It’s fighting with them after unilaterally cancelling their compensation contract.

The very people who could tell the government where plans might go badly wrong are frozen out.

The main lines for this program were developed by Ernst & Young based on government criteria. This is a storied company, to be sure, but austerity designed by consultant may not be exactly what medical professionals, and the public, had in mind.

Most alarming, this program is all about the cuts, with hardly a reassuring word about planning for the health system that will emerge.

Everybody knows the province’s finances are deeply challenged. This crisis has drastically worsened since the UCP was elected in April 2019.

But Kenney did make a promise. On Feb. 20, 2019, at the start of the campaign, he issued a signed promise to “maintain or increase health spending.”

Many people with doubts about the UCP went to the polls believing that health care would not face radical change or even modest cuts.

Kenney and his party may pay for their complete reversal, just as Notley herself was pilloried for bringing in a carbon tax she neglected to mention in the 2015 campaign.

Despite the risk, Kenney is singularly focused on spending cuts. Health care, with more than 40 per cent of spending, is the obvious target.

But a new budget is coming. What’s next?

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

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