July 15th, 2024

Citizens rally for public health care


By Lethbridge Herald on May 16, 2022.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward Protesters were out in support of the 'Better Way Alberta' rally in front of city hall on Saturday. The rally was held in hopes of preventing further UCP government attacks on public health care.

Justin Seward
Lethbridge Herald

‘Better Way Alberta’ rallies were held across Alberta on Saturday, including in front of Lethbridge’s City Hall, to protest the Alberta government’s attacks on the province’s health care system.

The rallies in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge were a joint effort from the Friends of Medicare, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the United Nurses of Alberta and others.

It has been since the beginning of 2022 that the UCP government has accelerated efforts to privatize vital parts of public health care including areas such as community labs, surgeries, opthalmology and creating a panel to further consider privatizing EMS services.

“There’s been a dismantling of our health care system intentionally, so the fact it can be sold off to private interest organizations and we don’t want to be seeing that happen,” said Krysty Thomas, president of Lethbridge and District Labour Council. 

“It’s a deterioration of our services. As you all know, we’ve been chatting about how there’s an extreme doctor shortage in Lethbridge and we’re having some serious issues when it comes to the families being able to access primary care.”

Thomas said they’re exasperated here in Lethbridge, especially with the fact that 40,000 citizens don’t have a family doctor.

“But that’s happening across the board,” she said. “We’re seeing privatization of the labs; we’re seeing wait times gone up and we’re seeing lack of hospital beds. We’re seeing hospitals being put in place but no staff to staff them.”

“We need a provincial government that will support public health care rather than attack it, who’ll mend relationships with doctors and health care workers,” said Chris Gallaway, Friends of Medicare executive director. “Respect them — there’s this real need for respect — because we’re not going to get solutions unless we see leadership from the provincial level.”

Friends of Medicare has been calling for a workforce strategy from the provincial government for months, says Gallaway.

“Where they stop attacking post-secondary institutions and start looking at how we create the spaces we need of the work force we need,“ he said. “And along with that, a retention and recruitment strategy for the health care professionals in Alberta. Right now they’re continuing to drive them away, they’re continuing to propose rollbacks and we’re seeing more and more people leave. They haven’t stopped the bleed.”

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