Question 1: Cancer Care and Health Care Services
According to a Leger Marketing poll, healthcare is the number one issue on the minds of Alberta voters. About one quarter of Albertans believe that healthcare is the most important issue facing Alberta today and almost four in ten will evaluate the parties’ position on healthcare when deciding who to vote for (Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, March 28, 2012).
If elected, how will your government improve the delivery of cancer care and other healthcare services in Alberta?
Our party’s position is that Albertans value our publicly funded healthcare system and we wish to continue to build upon past successes, while addressing issues proactively. We understand from what Albertans have been saying is that one way of improving the delivery of services is to have more access to the healthcare system. This is why we are bringing in a Family Care Clinic model that will provide better and more comprehensive access to primary healthcare services. This would include doctors, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and other health professionals. Albertans would be able to access any of these services without necessarily going through a doctor first. Opening hours would be extending from early morning until late in the evening, which better reflects the reality of many working Albertans.
Our plan is to evaluate the performance of the three pilot projects currently operating and to roll out 140 of the clinics, factoring in the feedback from the pilot projects. Each clinic will be individually tailored to the needs of that specific community. We have heard positive feedback from many communities across the province that would be interested in having such a facility.
Will your government continue to provide a publicly funded healthcare system or would it institute a private healthcare system? Please provide the rationale for your decision.
We fundamentally believe in a publicly funded healthcare system which provides care for all Albertans. Our party’s position is that we are proud of our publicly funded healthcare and the approximately 100,000 people who work in the system. We think most Albertans would agree with that statement. While we know that there are some issues that we are working to deal with, we must remember that our public system gets excellent results in many instances. Recently, a study done by the Canadian Institute of Health Information revealed that Alberta’s healthcare outcomes were better than the rest of Canada in several categories: readmission rates were lower, mortality rates were lower and administration costs were lower. In short, we stand by our system and do not intend to institute private healthcare.
How will your government restructure healthcare delivery in Alberta?
A PC government does not believe any major restructuring is required at the moment. Some other political parties have suggested that they would undo the consolidation of regional healthcare boards. After several years of implementing those changes, we believe it would be extremely imprudent and disruptive on the healthcare system to bring in any restructuring.
How will your government improve services for lymphedema following cancer treatment?
Cancer is a terrible disease that afflicts Albertans in many ways each year. Albertans expect their healthcare system to be there for them when they need it. They expect ongoing access to primary care, adequate testing, accurate diagnosis, effective cancer treatment and support during recovery. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta continues to endorse building our healthcare system to provide all of this to Albertans. This is why a PC government has laid out a solid Capital Plan for the next three years that includes $2.1 billion invested in healthcare facilities that provide these services. Some examples of projects from the Capital Plan include the Central Alberta Cancer Centre in Red Deer, the Edmonton Cross Cancer Centre and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. These facilities have been, and will continue to provide for Albertans dealing with cancer, in a professional and dignified manner. As well, in Budget 2012, our party has augmented the investment for cancer research and prevention by $2.5 million, for a total of $25 million.
Question 2: Drug Approval
On average between 2004-2010, Alberta has 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?
As stated above, our party’s view is that providing the right kind of cancer treatment in a timely manner is of the utmost importance. This extends to making sure that Albertans have access to the right pharmaceutical treatments. When we examine this same report from the Fraser Institute which you reference, Alberta has done better in the last few years in approving medication for reimbursement. For two of the last three years, Alberta has met the provincial average. A PC government will continue to build on this momentum and work with Alberta Health and Wellness to make sure Albertans are receiving access to the drugs necessary to combat cancer effectively.