NDP calls out UCP for “dangerous war on doctors”

by Morinville News Staff

With UCP budget measures taking effect Apr. 1, the NDP are calling our the government and Health Minister Tyler Shandro for disregarding pleas to halt healthcare cuts until the COVID-19 pandemic is contained.

“Doctors are risking their lives to protect Albertans during this global emergency,” said NDP Opposition Critic for Health David Shepherd. “Across Canada and around the world, you can see people coming to their windows and balconies to cheer their heartfelt thanks for healthcare professionals. But in Alberta, Tyler Shandro is insulting them online, harassing them at their homes, and as of today, slashing their pay. He must resign.”

The NDP says Dr. Christine Molnar, Alberta Medical Association President, met with Shandro Friday to appeal personally for a delay.

Molnar wrote to Alberta’s doctors on Monday, stating that “somehow the physicians of Alberta have become the enemy of a government frustrated by its circumstance.”

Molnar went on in the letter to say she has not seen anything like it in 44 years in medicine.

“It is clear that Shandro does not take this deadly pandemic seriously,” Shepherd said. “Any rational person would understand that now is the time to set aside his personal grudges, even temporarily, and let these professionals do their job, which is to save lives. It’s appalling that Alberta’s doctors must fight their own minister while also fighting a deadly pandemic. Shandro must resign.”

Banff’s Dr. Matt McIsaac told the NDP that physicians are leaving towns or cutting short hospital coverage. “Every cut has directly impacted rural physicians,” he said. “The message from the government is clear: you and your patients are not important. Primary Health care is not important. These cuts could not come at a worse time.”

Innisfail’s Dr. Jarritt Seeman is finding it difficult to adjust to the province’s billing changes while planning and preparing for the pandemic. “In the long term though, we are concerned about our ability to continue to cover our emergency department and how it will affect our ability to continue to recruit new full-scope rural physicians,” the doctor said.

Fifteen of the province’s doctors joined the NDP’s David Shepherd in Wednesday’s teleconference.

On Monday, 864 of Alberta’s doctors penned an open letter to the Premier and Health Minister, asking for a temporary halt to the cuts amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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