The Alberta government has introduced a new bill that will make it easier to outsource public health services to private players, allowing them to offer medical services at a higher price. 

The Bill is a result of a performance review of Alberta Health Services undertaken at the request of the government. The proposed changes will make it easier for new private clinics and surgical facilities to get approval and allow for-profit corporations to run clinics which critics warn could steal doctors away from the public health system.

According to Kenney, this move will reduce surgical wait times, but studies from more developing countries prove that privatization does not lead to that, only reducing wait times for those who are able to pay the higher cost. In fact, after privatized MRI services in 2016, Saskatchewan’s MRI wait list doubled within just 3 years.

Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, said that Bill 30 will facilitate “selling off [a] world-class public health system to private interests,” and would divert “funds for patient care [to] used for profits”. 

Citing the failure of America’s for-profit healthcare system to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker added that additional privatization in a time of crisis could threaten public health. While uninsured Americans are being charged thousands of dollars for COVID-related hospitalizations, Canadians are able to access care for free, encouraging people to seek treatment after contracting the virus.

Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, said, “[Bill 30] signals that this government is unable or unwilling to learn the necessary lessons from a pandemic that has made abundantly clear the importance of a responsive public health care system.”

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