by Morinville News Staff
Government House Leader Jason Nixon laid out the government’s plans to address the immediate health needs of Albertans Monday, including several motions that will expedite the passing of Budget 2020 Bills 5 and 6 and allow for evening sittings to occur to speed up the progress of these important pieces of legislation.
“We are living in unprecedented times. The situation around the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating and ever-changing,” Nixon said. “We need to ensure funding is available for the front-line health-care workers whose presence will be critical in treating Albertans who become seriously ill as we also call on all Albertans to reduce transmission and help flatten the curve of the virus’s progression, to spread those cases and the burden on the health system over a longer time. In addition, we need to be certain that other essential government services are fully funded going forward in order to ensure these services are available to Albertans during this challenging time.”
Leader of the Official Opposition, Rachel Notley, in a letter to Premier Jason Kenney called on the government to pass interim supply legislation.
“What passage of Budget 2020 in an accelerated fashion DOES achieve, however, is the removal of the obligation of your government to hold your 12-month fiscal blueprint up to the scrutiny of the public, the Legislature and the enhanced oversight of the Auditor General,” Notley wrote. “While the same lack of scrutiny exists for interim supply or special warrants, the timeline over which Albertans would be expected to tolerate this situation would be much shorter.”
Notley went on to say the UCP Budget leave the overall Health ministry with a real cut despite an additional $500 million in spending announced over the weekend.
“Simply put, after adjusting for population and inflation, as estimated in Budget 2020, and including your $500 million increase, the Ministry is still being cut by roughly $460M in the midst of a pandemic,” Notley said. “What’s more, we know that the coming pressure on our healthcare system will far exceed status quo. It is our view that your government’s plan for healthcare falls far short of what Albertans need at this very challenging time.”
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro says while the government took dramatic action on preventing the spread of COVID-19 over the weekend, it is difficult to know precisely what the virus’s progression will look like in Alberta.
“These motions will give us the adaptability to ensure our government is able to provide money for care where it is most needed by allowing for an additional $500 million in spending for front-line health-care support,” Shandro said.