Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith used a visit to Calgary’s Stars Air Ambulance to announce her party would expand the scope of a judicial health inquiry to include allegations of doctor intimidation in Alberta.
She accused Progressive Conservative Premier Alison Redford of not just breaking her promise to hold a full inquiry — Smith says the premier “shattered it.”
Wildrose Leader Daniell Smith toured the Stars Air Ambulance centre in Calgary Saturday. (Alana Baker/CBC)
Smith told reporters that a Wildrose government would be bound to the recommendations of a full inquiry into allegations raised by the Health Quality Council report.
“We have to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated,” she said. “We also need a thorough investigation into the allegations of bullying and intimidation of our health care professionals by bureaucrats and politicians.”
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman also announced at the beginning of the election campaign that his party would launch a public inquiry into allegations that doctors and health care workers were bullied by managers and provincial politicians.
Tories fire back
“We have openly acknowledged that doctor intimidation has occurred in our health care system, and have committed to solving this unacceptable practice,” said former health minister Fred Horne, a Tory candidate for Edmonton–Rutherford, in a release.
“This is not about initiating an inquiry which wastes limited resources on something that has already been confirmed.”
The PCs say looking into doctor intimidation would cost $20 million to discover what is already known — doctor intimidation did occur and “it is unacceptable.” They also say calling an inquiry into doctor bullying goes against the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s recommendations.
“This is about moving forward, our opposition seems to continuously introduce plans that look into the past and have backward momentum,” said Horne. “When an error is made, you acknowledge it, create a solution and ensure you do everything possible to mitigate the chance for the error to occur again.”
The public health inquiry announced by the Tories in February would look into queue jumping in the health care system and there would also be a separate review of Emergency Medical Services. Redford has said while the inquiry has been directed to not look into alleged bullying, it could still come up in the hearings.
PC leader promises Stars funding boost
Redford was also at a Stars centre in Grande Prairie Saturday promising a $10 million a year funding boost to the air ambulance service starting in 2013.
“This funding is a centrepiece to our integrated approach to emergency health care services in rural and remote communities. It will provide greater funding certainty and stability, enable STARS to expand or enhance their operations in Alberta, and support their 24-hour Emergency Link Centre,” she said.
PC Leader Alison Redford promises to boost Stars funding by $10 million in 2013. (@Premier_Redford/Twitter)
Redford said the air ambulance is a vital lifeline for rapid, highly specialized emergency medical transport that increases Albertans’ chances of survival and prospects for recovery in the face of critical injuries and accidents.
“With bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie, STARS provides equitable access to high-quality care for all Albertans,” she said. “By pursuing the common goal of providing seamless emergency care together we can provide all Albertans the assurance that emergency resources will be available to them when they matter most.”
Redford said the funding announcement ensures another aspect of certainty for a better quality of life for families in rural Alberta.
With files from The Canadian Press