Will Smith’s plan to reform Alberta’s healthcare system work?

Some see the dismissal of Alberta’s health board and the appointment of a sole administrator by Prime Minister Daniel Smith as a welcome sign of a much-needed overhaul of the province’s health system, while others Some say putting such a serious task on the shoulders of just one person might be a recipe for failure.

Dr. John Cowell, former administrator of the Alberta Health Service, said: indicted Improving response times for emergency medical services, reducing waiting times in emergency rooms, reducing waiting times for surgeries, and developing long-term reforms in consultation with frontline workers.

Susan Martinuk, researcher and author of Patients at Risk: Canada’s Medical Crisis Revealed, believes Smith is on the right track.

“She listed the major problems, like we all have, without giving a solution. , is that it’s a change! It’s what we need,” Martinook told the Epoch Times in an email.

“First, do what is necessary to get patients on the waiting list to get care. Payments should reward hospitals for treating patients. We encourage treating fewer patients.”

Dr. Herb Emery, former research director and health policy program director at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, believes the task is too big for one person.

“It doesn’t matter who Smith picks, I don’t see why Cowell would agree to do so. He probably wouldn’t make it,” Emery said in an interview.

“Dr. Cowell may prove me wrong and fix everything, but I have never seen anyone set up to fail as badly as Dr. Cowell. If he can, he’ll be a legendary hero in Alberta and Canada, not just another guy who got burned by the dragon in healthcare at his best.”

Cowell, who will have two staff members working together, said he expects to start seeing results within six months.

Emery, now an economics professor at the University of New Brunswick, says the time frame and size of the health care system hampers Cowell’s potential.

“This system is too large and disparate to be operated and managed by a single organization, let alone an individual. It will take six months to 18 months,” he said.

“Making this major structural change in the final year of the mandate, where re-election and continuation of the new structure are not guaranteed, means getting buy-in from an overwhelming number of stakeholder groups is really difficult. Caregivers, and next year’s voters, who don’t like how things are going can lay down the tools, join the efforts needed to “fix things”, or campaign against the “fix”. I can’t even go. ”

‘Not cautiously optimistic’

Cowell believes his role structure and existing investments in healthcare give him a good chance.

“[I’m] Real results rather than cautiously optimistic. Six months is just the amount of time you need, not less to see meaningful changes. But I think the conditions for victory are in place,” he said at a press conference announcing his appointment.

“The fundamental change is so well-organized and well-thought-out that all we really need is to accelerate it. …The supply side is much more robust than the demand side is asking. There is an opportunity here because there is.”

During Cowell’s career, he served as CEO of the Alberta Health Quality Council, President and CEO of the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board, and for over 30 years was a clinical professor in the Department of Community Health Services at the University of Calgary. .

A 78-year-old man broke his knee in a bicycle accident in February. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance, then underwent surgery and was hospitalized for eight days.

“I wouldn’t recommend trying it, but it’s one good way to find out what you’re up against,” he said at a press conference.

Ian Madsen, Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Center for Public Policy, believes a more fundamental change is needed.

“I don’t know if reorganizing or restructuring the management of the health bureaucracy will make a big difference,” Madsen said in an email.

“Ideally, the entire system would be abolished and individual Albertans would be given health insurance credits and be able to purchase their own private insurance. Hospitals, clinics, diagnostic companies, and doctor practices. are all private sector, prices for all treatments are fully publicized and competitive, and if current funding is inadequate, the names of the various entities mentioned above will be made public with the possibility of raising capital. I have.

“It would be a pleasant surprise if we could do something similar with our current system.”

Lee Harding


Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist, think tank researcher, and contributor to The Epoch Times.