Premier Danielle Smith has issued a “public health guarantee” that, if re-elected, her United Conservative government won’t leave Albertans paying for medical treatment, including visits to doctors.
Speaking Tuesday in Sherwood Park, Smith said, “I want to be clear: under the UCP’s public health-care guarantee, we are committing to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out-of-pocket to see their family doctor or to get the medical treatment they need. And it means that a UCP government, under my leadership, will not delist any medical services or prescriptions now covered by Alberta Health Insurance. No exceptions.”
The United Conservatives’ 2023 budget includes $24.5 billion for Alberta’s public health-care system — roughly a billion dollars more than spending forecasted in 2023-23, according to budget highlights published on the Government of Alberta’s website.
A 2021 public policy paper written by Smith and published by the University of Calgary makes it clear that Smith was open to other ideas two years before she won the UCP leadership race last fall.
“We can no longer afford universal social programs that are 100 per cent paid by taxpayers,” Smith wrote in her paper, entitled “Alberta’s Key Challenges And Opportunities.”
Under the subheading User Fees, Smith specified that Albertans should pay for doctor visits out of personal health spending accounts to be subsidized by the province.
“If the government funded the account at $375 a year, that’s the equivalent of 10 trips to a GP, so there can be no argument that this would compromise access on the basis of ability to pay,” Smith wrote.
Smith went on to insist that any redefinition of universality “must mean that no one is denied care when they need it and no one should face bankruptcy because of medical bills. Full stop.”