Tories’ Health Plan another slap in the face for rural Albertans, writes contributor

Dear Editor;
Good old ‘Farmer Ed’ Stelmach and his crew have done it again. Although it is a generally accepted fact that rural Alberta is the heartland of Conservative political strength, these same farmers and rural Albertans keep getting the shaft, time after time, by this government.

Dear Editor;

Good old ‘Farmer Ed’ Stelmach and his crew have done it again. Although it is a generally accepted fact that rural Alberta is the heartland of Conservative political strength, these same farmers and rural Albertans keep getting the shaft, time after time, by this government. It’s like, “these people will keep voting for us anyway, so why bother spending a lot of time and money on them”.

So, in their ultimate ‘wisdom’, the Stelmach Conservatives allow and even encourage drilling of dangerous sour gas wells in close proximity to our rural schools, create legislation doomed to force the closure of those same rural schools, hire private investigators to spy on Alberta ranchers and landowners, impose restrictive identification measures on our already grossly over-taxed cattle producers (oh – no worry – the 25 percent of $300 million which producers were actually supposed to receive should cover that nicely). The list goes on, and now we have the new Health Plan.

Provincial Health Minister, Ron Leipert, readily admits that he doesn’t dare unveil the entire plan all at once because he might “scare the hell out of the people”.

I think many of us were more than a bit skeptical at the announcement of the health ‘Super Boards’ a few months ago. Now it looks as though our suspicions are being verified. According to the McKinsey Report, upon which the plan is based, Alberta’s health care costs could be reduced by $1.5 billion annually by 2020, in spite of a sharp rise in the province’s population. The report goes on to suggest that the future state of rural hospitals will be marked by investments in “ambulatory care centres, tele-health, selected rural hospitals and EMS (emergency medical services)”. And now, due to the elimination of the old health regions, there will be little or no representation from most rural areas to contest the reduction or perhaps even total removal of health services in those areas.

We live in a province with an economy that is fuelled by energy production and virtually all that production is situated in rural Alberta. I would even go so far as to say that, for the most part, rural Albertans are the unofficial sponsors of the province’s energy industry.

Isn’t it a shame that our government isn’t willing to treat its rural citizens more appropriately? Or, maybe we’re just getting in the way and have actually become the victims of a regime that is most intent on taking from the rapidly expanding ranks of the less fortunate and giving to the already filthy rich, at all costs. Looks like ‘Farmer Ed’ and Co. have put a completely new twist to the age-old legend of Robin Hood.

Edwin Erickson

Buck Lake, AB

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