Wednesday, 23 November 2011 16:22

The Healthcare Movie initiates conversation in southeast Alberta

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By Rose Sanchez — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Those attending the screening of The Healthcare Movie agreed work needs to be done to create more community clinics in Alberta, where doctors work closely alongside other health-care providers such as nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

The Palliser Chapter of Friends of Medicare showed the documentary in a special screening Nov. 17 in Medicine Hat. About 50 people were in attendance.

Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, the film looks at how the Canadian health-care system came to be created by the father of medicare — and Sutherland’s grandfather — Tommy Douglas. It also looks at the American system, why public health care was rejected and the work to introduce a more public system.

The film concludes with a look at a successful community clinic in Saskatoon, where doctors are paid salaries and work in a building alongside other health-care professionals.

After the film’s conclusion, Palliser FOM chairman Boyd Alcock initiated discussion with those in attendance.

He said Alberta Health Services (AHS) should strive to be effective, efficient, fair and sustainable. There are various aspects which effect the success of this including demographics, general health of the population, technological changes, and new organizational structures.

“Primary care networks for example,” he said. “The Palliser Primary Care Network has had no additional funding since 2003.”

There are two ways of thinking when it comes to dealing with the health-care system. The first is to move to privatization and create a business model. The second is to remain public and better allocate current funding.

A lot of concern is being targeted at seniors’ care because of the growing seniors’ population. Alcock attempted to direct the discussion to how seniors’ care should be funded. He said it could be a user-pay system, health-care premiums could returned, or a move to a progressive income tax as opposed to the current system of a flat tax.

Some audience members were in favour of a progressive tax system tied to income, but also liked the idea of a community health centre.

“Is it a lack of imagination on behalf of the people who make these decisions for us or is it a cost-delivery issue,” asked one attendee.

Alcock said Dr. Raj Sherman, leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, believes the system can be redesigned.

“(Sherman) feels the prevailing outlook in caucus is to move to more private health care,” said Alcock. He added Sherman said he feels after the next provincial election, the Tories will take hospitals and sell them off or portions of them to insurance companies or private businesses.

Other concerns raised by those in the audience included altering the way doctors are paid rather than on a per visit basis.

Jan Bunney, former chair of the Palliser FOM said people have to look closely at the Tories and their intent with health care.

“Is the present Progressive Conservative government’s objective to improve health care or privatize it to make a profit?” asked Bunney.

When she asked Sherman this question, he said seniors’ care is the best place to make changes because it is not governed under the Canada Health Act and there is a lot of money to be made in contracting out services.

Those in attendance liked the idea of learning more about the Palliser primary care network and also wondered if a community clinic like the one in Saskatoon could be piloted in Medicine Hat. There was also some interest in bringing in an AHS official to speak about seniors’ care in southeast Alberta.

The Palliser FOM has five copies of The Healthcare Movie available to be borrowed.

Officials are hoping it will encourage discussion about the current health-care system.

To inquire about borrowing a copy of the film email Alcock at bmalcock@

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