NDP health plan promises 1,500 long-term-care beds

NDP Leader Brian Mason rolled out his party's health plan to open 1,500 new long-term-care beds, spend $100 million more on home care and cover basic dental costs for children under 18.

The New Democrats would also cap seniors' drug costs at $25 in total, instead of $25 for each prescribed drug needed. They would maintain the cap on seniors' living costs and hire "hundreds" of doctors over the next four years.

Mason said these aren't "extraordinary promises," but ways to bring down waits for emergency care and strengthen medicare.

"Come election time, every party says they are the champions of Alberta health care, but Alberta's New Democrats are always there, election time or not," Mason said, calling the NDP health platform the party's top priority.

"Medicare is suffering in Alberta because of years of mismanagement and attempts at privatization."

Mason said the PCs rolled out their plans for the Third Way after the 2004 provincial election. After the 2008 election, the government appointed Ron Liepert the bad-cop health minister who set up Alberta Health Services after firing CEOs of the former provincial health regions.

"I think this is likely to happen again," Mason said. "I think people are learning a lesson: You can't trust the Progressive Conservative Party on health care because they won't tell you the truth during the election."

Premier Alison Redford continues to flirt with privatization by saying she'll get rid of the cap on the maximum amount seniors can pay for living expenses, said Mason.

"Alison Redford's answer is American-style health care," he said. "We want to improve and expand public health care."

How much the NDP health plan would cost won't be released until later this week.

"In our view, medicare is sustainable through commitment and innovation," Mason said. "The government doesn't spend its money wisely in the health-care system."

Edmonton Journal, Wed Mar 28 2012
Byline: Jodie Sinnema

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