Edmonton

UCP government would undertake operational review of AHS, Kenney says

If he becomes premier, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he will commission a performance review of Alberta Health Services within 30 days of taking office.

UCP leader Jason Kenney signs pledge to keep publicly-funded health-care system

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney pledged to review Alberta Health Services if he becomes premier after this spring's election. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

If he becomes premier, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he will commission a performance review of Alberta Health Services within 30 days of taking office.

Kenney made the pledge at a campaign announcement in Edmonton Wednesday. 

He says he wants to ensure health-care dollars go to front-line services instead of administration.

"I hear from front-line health professionals all the time  — nurses, physicians, paramedics and others — that there's enormous waste in the administrative centre of our system and an enormous amount of rationing," Kenney said.

Kenney said a UCP government would issue a request for proposals to find a company to do the review. The plan is to receive a report by the end of the year.

"We do believe savings can be found on the administrative front," he said. "We have to ask ourselves. Why are we spending so much more than other provinces with substandard results."

Kenney also signed a pledge committing to a publicly-funded health-care system. He said a UCP government would maintain or increase spending.

UCP leader Jason Kenney signed a "public health guarantee" at a campaign announcement in Edmonton Wednesday. (Scott Neufeld/CBC )

However, Kenney said he was open to competition in the system and allowing private companies to perform publicly-funded procedures including surgery in order to reduce wait times.

Kenney said the Saskatchewan government allowed private surgical centres to operate in the system. The private clinics were able to perform the procedures at a lower cost than government-run hospitals, he said.

"We're not going to let ideology get in the way of our focus which is timely patient care," he said.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information shows Alberta has the leanest health care administration in the country. She said Kenney's report and a decision to keep health-care spending the same would likely result in thousands of layoffs.

Hoffman added Kenney's health-care pledge isn't worth anything because he ignored the last document he signed publicly — his grassroots policy guarantee. 

"I remember him signing a big nice big document when he was running for the leader of the conservatives and moments later it was through the shredder," she said.

"These kinds of pledges at best are not genuine, and worst, I think they're undermining the importance of the public health-care system."

During Wednesday's news conference, Kenney was asked about the future of the new hospital planned for southwest Edmonton. He said the project, announced by the NDP government in May 2017, will be incorporated into the party's infrastructure plan. 

"We have to look at what are the overall costs," he said. "We'll have an announcement in the weeks to come about a depoliticized process for infrastructure planning. So yes, we would have an Edmonton south ... hospital within our infrastructure plan."

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