Question 1: Cancer Care and Healthcare Services
In a recent poll conducted by CBC Vote Compass, healthcare is the number two issue on the minds of Alberta voters.
How will your government improve the delivery of cancer care and other healthcare services in Alberta?
The PC government is committed to improving access and delivery of all health care services in Alberta, including cancer care. To this end, Budget 2015 provides a total of $18.9 billion for health care in 2015-16. This includes $13.4 billion for Alberta Health Services, which funds a wide variety of cancer screening and treatment programs as well as supports for cancer patients and their families.
Over the next five years, our Capital Plan will invest $3.4 billion in Alberta’s health facilities, including $653 million in maintenance and preservation for existing facilities and $3.4 billion for a new cancer centre at Calgary’s South Health Campus. This new Calgary cancer facility will be the first phase of a two-site model for cancer care in that region, with the second phase to be built at the Foothills Medical Centre in the future.
Will your government continue to provide a publicly funded healthcare system or would it institute a private healthcare system?
The PC government remains fully committed to a publicly funded public health care system in our province.
How will your government restructure healthcare delivery in Alberta?
In September 2014, Health Minister Stephen Mandel asked Dr. Richard Starke, MLA for Vermillion-Lloydminster to lead a complete review of rural health care in Alberta. The Rural Health Services Review Committee delivered its final report in March 2015 and recommended actions – a number of which are underway, including:
· Developing a provincial EMS service delivery model.
· Establishing eight to 10 Alberta Health Services (AHS) operational districts to give communities a stronger voice in local decision-making.
· Recognizing the vital role that health care services and facilities play in the economic viability of rural communities, and taking steps to evaluate each facility’s potential for better usage or re-purposing.
· Dr. Starke’s report also recommended expanding school-based mental health education and intervention programs and Budget 2015 provides funding to expand such programs across the province.
How will your government ensure that cancer patients receive the services they need, including home care, financial assistance during recovery and for long-term side effects of cancer and/or treatment?
Alberta has a wide range of programs to help ensure all patients receive the support they need during and after treatment, including home care. The Government of Alberta spends approximately $2 billion each year on continuing care, which includes funding for home care. AHS has plans to expand the program over the coming years in order to accommodate an increase in clients. Home care clients in Alberta pay no fees for health and personal care services.
Question 2: Drug Approval
A key element of providing timely treatment for cancer patients is ensuring that they have access to the medications they need at the time they need them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Alberta.
On average between 2004-2010, Alberta approved for public reimbursement 17.7% of the 306 new drugs approved by Health Canada, compared to the cross-country provincial average for the same period of 23.44% (Access Delayed, Access Denied: Waiting for New Medicines in Canada, Mark Rovere and Brett J. Skinner, Studies in Health Policy, April 2012, The Fraser Institute).
If elected, will your government commit to increasing the number of new cancer and other drugs approved for public reimbursement so that all Albertans have timely access to the drugs they need, and if so, how will this be accomplished?
Publicly funded medications that improve Albertans’ health and quality of life are an essential part of our health system. This year alone, we are spending $448 million on drugs and other supplementary health benefits and approximately $2.2 billion over the next five years.
We are always adding new drugs to our coverage list, including 32 last year, and we’re working to ensure Albertans have access to the best new medications available while continuing to manage drug costs by:
· Covering the lower cost version and negotiating lower prices for new drugs.
· Working with our provincial and federal partners to develop a national approach to rare disease drugs.
· Continuing to fund programs that protect low-income Albertans from the high cost of some drugs.