Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Thursday, March 25, 2004

SALT Press Release - Budget 2004 

The Edmonton based Seniors Action and Liaison Team(SALT) deplores the repeated efforts by the Alberta Government to claim health care is not sustainable, according to Noel Somerville, Chair of the SALT Communications Committee.

“SALT is profoundly disappointed by what is and is not contained in the 2004 Alberta Budget,” Somerville said, adding that “the Alberta government still adheres to the false premise that health care spending is not sustainable despite huge, un-budgeted, recurring surpluses and the fact that Alberta’s spending on health care has actually decreased over the past 10 years from 5.3% of GDP in 1993/94 to 4.9% of GDP in 2003/04, and from 30% of government revenue in 1993/94 to 27% of revenue in 2003/04.”

Somerville illustrated his point by reference to tables from Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Government of Alberta. Click below to see tables.

Health Care Spending as a Percentage of Provincial GDP
Government Funding as a Proportion of Total Governement Budget

Kevan Rhead, Acting Chair of SALT, pointed out “This false premise was repeated as recently as a week a go with the government’s release of their 20 year strategic plan where they state on Page 10 “Over the past 10 years, per-capita health costs have outpaced inflation and economic growth.” The attached GDP table proves the exact opposite. Health costs have in fact lagged behind inflation and economic growth.”

Further, the SALT representatives deplored the Government’s continuing use of the pretext of un-sustainability to argue for curtailment of services and for greater private sector involvement in the form of private for-profit surgical facilities, public, private partnerships to build hospitals and other public facilities, and private for-profit insurance companies.

Rhead said, “Eliminating the tax-exempt status of the not-for-profit Alberta Blue Cross will benefit no one except the private for-profit insurance industry.”

“Apparently, the government has learned nothing,”
Somerville observed, “from our experience with auto insurance in Alberta that is significantly more expensive than the publicly administered auto insurance plans in the other three western provinces.” He said, “It is incredible that the government wants to abdicate its responsibility to administer an effective health care system and turn it over to the private, for-profit insurance industry. It is prepared to be “un-Canadian” to the point of importing an American style, bureaucratic, multi-payer, private for-profit, insurance-driven health care system into Alberta, even if it means giving up $1.3 billion in annual federal transfer payments.”

“Furthermore,” Rhead added, “we see little sign in the 2004 Alberta Budget that government is prepared to shoulder its responsibilities and make meaningful progress to address the problems related to:

Finally, SALT notes with extreme disappointment the government’s failure to eliminate health care premiums for all Albertans. “Health care premiums are in fact a regressive tax,” Somerville stated. “Their elimination would be a significant benefit both to employers and to individuals, such as seniors, who have to pay these premiums out of their fixed incomes.”

The Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT) is a self-financed group of Edmonton seniors concerned with social justice issues in Alberta and Canada.

For further information contact:
Noel Somerville. Chair, SALT Communications
Committee. Phone: (780) 452-1846, or
Kevan Rhead, Acting Chair of SALT. Phone: (780) 435-1121

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