Alberta NDP Leadership Candidate Kathleen Ganley Lays Out Priorities To Address Healthcare Crisis

“Ending the healthcare crisis is critical, to our future, to our ability to draw new economic activity to Alberta and so much more, We take care of each other, no exception.”

Alberta NDP Leader Kathleen Ganley has released her priorities to begin solving the healthcare crisis that has been made worse by UCP privatization attempts, cuts to funding and an ongoing war with doctors.

“Alberta healthcare is bordering on collapse,” Ganley said. “It’s being held together by frontline workers giving too much of themselves. That’s not fair and it isn’t sustainable.

“The UCP are going to leave us a big mess and we need to be a realistic that we won’t end the crisis overnight; however, there are several key steps I believe we should take the moment we form government in 2027.

Ganley laid out four priorities:

1. Access to Family Doctors/Primary Care Within 3 Days  — Every Albertan deserves to have access to a family doctor, and be able to get a primary care appointment for urgent issues within three days. We need to set clear goals to drive where we are going, especially in primary care which forms the basis for so much of our system. 

The UCP have driven family physicians out of this province in two ways. First, they have failed to update, and even rolled back, the compensation model for family docs — in many cases this means physicians feel forced into 10-minute medicine that doesn’t work for them or their patients. In addition, the UCP attacks doctors’ character and tore up their contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic

To solve the current crisis in family medicine we must attract doctors to Alberta, train more doctors, recognize the professionals we have, and move to a team based model for primary care.

Other provinces have come up with alternate compensation models that are more attractive to physicians, Alberta can adopt some of those, but we must also work cooperatively and respectfully with experts to develop a model that works for doctors and patients. 

We must also be sure we are training a sufficient number of physicians to meet the future needs of a growing population. Finally, we have physicians right here in Alberta unable to have their credentials recognized because we can’t give them a clear path, we owe it to these professionals and to the people of this province to do the work to be able to present such a plan.

In addition to all of this, because so many physicians have left Alberta, it is likely that we no longer have a sufficient number to meet the needs of our current population in the model we have now. But, by making use of nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and other professionals we can make it possible for doctors to take on more patients while still providing appropriate care. This team-based model should include mental health care, nutrition, and other support services. 

We also need to work with professionals and local community representatives to develop a model to attract and retain physicians in communities of all sizes.

Primary care means we keep people healthier, it means less use of emergency and acute care, and early intervention that saves both lives and money.


2. Investing & Setting Standards For Long-Term Care — It’s time to invest heavily in public long-term care facilities and to legislate standards of care for both public and private facilities. Where a private provider refuses to meet the standards, an NDP Government would work to absorb them into the public system.

We would also work to ensure we are building culturally specific facilities. We must also increase wages for long-term care workers and ensure they can work full-time hours without moving between facilities. Our seniors deserve the best and that means dedicated staff should focus on one job — caring for them.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed just how bad the situation is in long-term care — in some cases, people who helped build this province are being warehoused and that’s heartbreaking. Long-term care must be about people, not profits.


3. Investing & Supporting Families Relying on Homecare - Immediate investment is needed to improve access to homecare and support services. Government must specifically provide more options for seniors requiring some assistance to age in place. Projections done by the Alberta NDP previously have determined a need for at least 20,000 more homecare spaces — this would be a good starting point.

Further support is also needed for the Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program, which was introduced by the Alberta NDP Government to help seniors renovate and adapt their homes.

Further investment should also be made into Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), which funds organizations offering support to seniors to say in their home.


4. Restore Alberta's Role In Federal Pharmacare Plan -  Finally, Ganley reiterated a previous commitment to immediately rejoin the federal pharmacare agreement, which intends to provide funding to dental care and access to contraception.

Ganley said her priority would be publicly funded, publicly delivered healthcare. When it comes to infrastructure, Ganley committed to expediting construction of the Red Deer Hospital expansion, to building a new hospital in Sherwood Park as well as a new Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge. Ganley said she would initiate an evidence-based inventory of healthcare infrastructure and what is needed across the province to ensure Albertans are able to access the healthcare they need.

“Public healthcare is the promise we make to each other as Canadians,” she said. “Right now, Danielle Smith is breaking that promise. We have tens of thousands of families without access to a doctor, mothers in labour on the highway driving into the cities to give birth and people waiting months, if not years, for critical operations.

“Ending the healthcare crisis is critical, to our future, to our ability to draw new economic activity to Alberta and so much more,” Ganley said. “We take care of each other, no exception.”