Leadership candidates won't address health care for seniors

Originally published by the Edmonton Journal September 26th 2011. To go to the Edmonton Journal website please click here

Progressive Conservative leadership candidates care more about tax cuts than seniors. Interest in health care and seniors has prompted me to follow public statements on the topic during the PC leadership race.

On Sept. 17 The Journal published what the former CEO of Alberta Health Services, Dr. Stephen Duckett, had to say to the next premier about health care. (“Message to next premier: Please cure health system; Invest in community care, rein in collective agreements and don’t look for a quick fix.”)

On the same page I read an opinion piece from Public Interest Alberta on responses from leadership candidates to questions relating to seniors. (“Government needs to open its ears; It’s time for Alberta to have dialogue on key issues such as our aging population.”)

I then studied responses from leadership candidates to questions posed and made public by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

Leadership candidates responded diligently to every question posed by the CTF, an organization with a distinct bias in favour of privatized health care.

None of the CTF’s questions aimed at serving the interest of seniors, the very people who have collectively paid more taxes and contributed more and for longer to society than any other demographic group.

Public Interest Alberta heard little from the candidates with the exception of Alison Redford, who took the time to address some issues raised by the non-partisan organization. No commitment was in favour of stopping the commercialization of continuing-care services. Surprisingly, support for improved services for seniors and others needing health-care services came from Duckett.

Health care does not come cheap, and Albertans already pay more out-of-pocket for health care than people in other provinces, so why do leadership candidates keep pushing the privatization button at public expense?

We cannot afford privatization of public services. In fact, if the trend to privatize anything that isn’t tied down does not stop, the cost to society in lost social programs will increase dramatically while the boomers age in place, or more likely, if they are not rich, age in a place that does not have the health services they need.

Baldwin Reichwein, Edmonton

© The Edmonton Journal