Alberta Premier Alison Redford is fending off accusations she broke her promise by failing to deliver a wide-ranging public inquiry into doctors being bullied.
Alberta Medical Association president Linda Slocombe said she is disappointed with the narrow scope.
"A much broader inquiry is warranted — and necessary — on the issue of physician intimidation," she said.
"The gulf between front-line care for patients and the decision-making mechanisms of administration has grown so wide. We can only bridge it by clearing the air and getting to the root of the intimidation that has occurred."
Opposition parties have also been widely critical of the Tory government’s decision to limit the inquiry’s scope to queue jumping, while doing a separate review of emergency medical services.
Health and Wellness Minister Fred Horne said Tuesday the government has accepted the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s (HQCA) review of health care issues released last week and will now start working on the 21 recommendations in the report.
Redford changes her mind
The decision to exclude the issue of doctor intimidation is an about-face from Redford’s comment last Friday. She said then that doctors who claim to have been punished for speaking out on poor patient care would be part of the public inquiry.
Redford now says the report released last week looked into those issues and that no more needs to be learned.
"One of the major decisions that she has committed to has been reversed in this past week," said Liberal health critic Dr. David Swann.
"Very disturbing for all Albertans, and particularly for those frontline health workers who felt we were going to get some accountability in the system," he said.
But Redford says while the inquiry has been directed by the government to not look into alleged bullying, it still might end up going there if such allegations come up in the hearings.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith was also critical of the reversal. "She promised a public inquiry into rampant bullying and intimidation of health workers — she was untruthful," Smith said in a written statement.