'An astoundingly failing grade': 70 per cent of Albertans say health care has declined under UCP
A majority of Albertans — 70 per cent — say the province’s health-care system has gotten worse over the last two years, and nearly half of those — 42 per cent — say it is “a lot worse.”
The findings are reflected in the Alberta Health Care Report Card by ThinkHQ Public Affairs, which surveyed 1,116 Albertans between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.
When asked to assign a letter grade to the UCP performance on healthcare, 50 per cent of respondents gave the government an ‘F’ and additional 20 per cent assigned a ‘D’ grade.
“You've got 7-out-of-10 Albertans saying that this is a government whose management of the healthcare system has been below average," said ThinkHQ president Marc Henry.
"It's a real indictment of their policies. It’s an astoundingly failing grade.”
While much of the last two years has been in the shadow of COVID-19, the overwhelming majority of respondents to the survey place some or all the blame on UCP policy decisions rather than the pandemic.
A full 42 per cent said the deterioration is mostly as a result of UCP policy, and 43 per cent said it is a combination of UCP policy and COVID-19. Only five per cent of Albertans surveyed believe healthcare in the province has improved.
“We've done this survey going back to the Redford government (2011-2014). This is one where it is different because we are dealing with a pandemic, but the level and intensity of dissatisfaction with the performance of the government is actually quite astounding,” said Henry.
"That's why we made a point of saying, ‘Ok, well, is this because it's something they did? Or is it because of, you know, it's tough dealing with COVID?’ People are not letting them off the hook in terms of excusing their performance on this because of COVID."
Arthur Gallant is one of those Albertans who thinks the government’s health policy fails to make the grade.
The 31-year-old was referred to a psychiatrist for an urgent mental health issue, only to be told it will be up to six months before he can get an appointment.
He gives Alberta Health a failing grade.
“Is a triple F an option? This is absolutely ridiculous. There's no other way to put it," he said.
"Where's my tax dollars going, because you don't see them in action. I'm not I'm not expecting to call 811 and having an appointment tomorrow, but for someone who was literally calling saying, ‘I could be on the verge of suicide,’ and being told the earliest you can see someone is next year, that's just unacceptable."
Calgary Neurologist Dr. Luanne Metz agrees Alberta’s healthcare system is deteriorating. She also lays the blame on UCP policy, which she says was predates the COVID pandemic.
“This started before COVID. COVID made it worse. We need stability, but we have no stability in our system. We have no idea what's coming next, and what's already happened ... it has been bad,” said Metz.
“Part of its policy part of it is the ideology. The idea that the ultimate goal is to cut the cost of the system by just going in there without listening to the consequences of the changes has hurt our system.”
Henry says with the UCP over the midpoint in their mandate, it will be a struggle for the party to regain public trust in health care before the next election.
“The challenge for the government going forward is; how do you have strong economic recovery without a strong healthcare system? The two things are incompatible," he said.
"They're going to want to talk about the growing economy, the strengthening economy, that's certainly an issue that fits well with where the government wants to go.
“But if the healthcare system is struggling, you are still going to have issues with struggling economy. So it's something they absolutely need to need to address and ignore it at (their) peril."
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of this size is +/-2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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