New Health Investments in Alberta' 2011 Budget

In budget 2011, the Alberta government also targeted the health care sector. An additional investment of $545 million dollars was made resulting in a 6% increase to the Alberta Health Services operating grant. The government also invested $333 million in the Alberta Seniors Benefit which supports about 148, 000 low-income seniors. Although this may represent an increase of $8 million or 2.4% from the previous year, the Consumer Price Index rose 3.3% between March 2010 and March 2011 indicating that the seniors benefit did not in fact maintain its value, even with the additional funds set aside in budget 2011.

On the other hand, this budget did make earmark a small increase in funding for Seniors Dental and Optical Assistance, Seniors Lodge Assistance, School Property Tax Assistance and Special Needs Assistance for Seniors. The $8.5 million dollar increase represents a 6.4% increase from 2010-11. The government anticipates that this funding will allow current benefits to be maintained while allowing demand volume to increase for almost all of these programs.

The goal of Alberta’s 5-Year Health Action Plan is to increase access to quality health care and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care service delivery. Under the Plan, specific performance measures and targets for improved performance of Alberta’s health care system have been established . Short-term results which are expected to be achieved by March 2012 under the Plan include:

– 360 new hospital beds;
– 3,000 more surgeries;
– 2,300 more continuing care spaces; and
– 3,000 more Albertans to receive home care services

Keywords: budget, healthcare, seniors, plans