Montreal, August 12, 2020 – Alberta’s legislature passed Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, on July 29. Considering Alberta’s underperforming health care system, the proposed reforms amount to a small step in the right direction according to the authors of a new publication (available in English only) released today by the Montreal Economic Institute.
“Bill 30 proposes streamlining the approval processes for chartered surgical facilities to increase numbers of publicly funded surgeries, as well as contracting with a variety of organizations for medical clinic operation to allow physicians to focus on patient care rather than administration,” says Krystle Wittevrongel, Associate Researcher at the MEI and author of the publication.
“These are positive measures, but Alberta’s health care system needs more ambitious reforms,” argues the researcher. “The reality is that health care in Alberta is suffering from inefficiency and outdated systems and is in desperate need of modernization as well as innovation. Two recent reports lay it out rather plainly.”
Taking Cues from Europe
“Over the past few decades, European countries have experimented with different health care delivery models that make more room for the private sector while maintaining universal coverage,” notes Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the MEI and co-author of the publication. “While many think the debate is between keeping the Canadian model as it is or opting for the American system, the reality is that there are many other countries that provide helpful examples of universal systems that have found ways to innovate,” continues Mr. St. Onge.
“For example, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland all have shorter average length of stay in hospital than Canada. These countries also allow the private sector to operate in a parallel system,” says Mr. St. Onge. “Whether it be delivering medically necessary hospital services or financing and delivering health care services, universal access is maintained, and outcomes are better than in Canada. They generally have more hospital beds, more doctors, and shorter wait times than Canada, despite older populations,” concludes the researcher.
A Leger poll carried out on behalf of the Montreal Economic Institute in late 2019 shows that Albertans are ready for a European-style health care model. A large majority (63%) think the government should allow private entrepreneurs to provide more health care, so long as services are still publicly covered, while 62% believe patients should have the right to buy private health insurance if they are not treated within a reasonable time in the public system.
The Economic Note entitled “Entrepreneurship and Universality: The Way Forward for Health Care in Alberta” was prepared by Krystle Wittevrongel, Associate Researcher at the MEI, in collaboration with Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.
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