Yesterday afternoon, the UCP Government used their majority in the Legislature to vote against Bill 201: Alberta Health Care Insurance (Access Fees) Amendment Act. This legislation would have banned access fees and membership-only health care in Alberta, and required the Minister to enforce the Act.
“At election time, Danielle Smith ran on a much-touted ‘Public Health Guarantee’, and repeatedly promised that no Albertan would ever have to pay to visit a family doctor. Bill 201 was a simple and straight-forward piece of legislation that could have ensured just that,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Yet here we are post-election, and instead of the Premier taking this opportunity to show her guarantee and election promises were more than just empty words, her government has voted to defeat this Bill.”
Over the summer, a Calgary clinic informed patients they would be moving to a costly membership system to access their primary care. Health Canada quickly declared the move a violation of the Canada Health Act. While the clinic ultimately backed down on the proposal following outcry from Albertans, the government has taken no action to prevent future attempts to charge patients out-of-pocket for care.
“Albertans are increasingly worried about their access to their health care, and incidents such as the clinic in Calgary this summer highlight exactly why clear and enforceable legislation is so needed,” said Gallaway. “Albertans deserve more than election promises and gimmicks, we need tangible action. Unfortunately, we have seen nothing from the government to show they are serious about protecting patients from these sorts of access fees in the future.”
Friends of Medicare encourages everyone in Alberta to add their voices to the call to end access fees and membership-only health care in our province.