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EDITORIAL: Health care overhaul misses the real point

A revised framework could possibly bring about needed changes, but an expensive and time-consuming overhaul isn’t necessary to do so. 
Premier Danielle Smith announced a restructuring of Alberta's health system last week.

Alberta’s health system has required care for some time now, although it’s hard to see the restructuring announced by Premier Danielle Smith last week being the right prescription. 

It’s way too early to tell if Smith’s decision to ‘de-aggregate’ Alberta Health Services by creating four parallel pillars to look after the various components of the health system will lead to any tangible improvements, but it’s not off to a promising start. 

The move, which was immediately criticized by doctors, nurses and others who work in the system, focuses on structural changes, quite possibly for political reasons, when the real problems are at ground level. That’s not to say a revised framework can’t bring about those needed changes, but an expensive and time-consuming overhaul isn’t necessary to do so. 

Smith and some of her most ardent supporters have deep-seated concerns with Alberta Health Services, much of that discontent borne out of its pandemic response, so this restructuring smacks of a power play where the organization is stripped of its control over all things health care. 

For the average Albertan, however, this political maneuvering is inconsequential: Their issues aren’t with the agency providing the service, but whether it’s available in the first place. They’re concerned about the lack of family doctors and the lengthy wait times for everything from an ER visit and surgical procedure to ambulance response and lab work. 

The planned restructuring doesn’t, at least not yet, put any more boots on the ground, so it’s hard to envision it improving health care for the average citizen, which should be the goal of any effort to revise the delivery model. If anything, the silos that are to come out of this restructuring could well make the system more bureaucratic and difficult to navigate. 

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