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Alberta NDP call for emergency health care debate

Last Updated Dec 2, 2019 at 8:54 am MDT

EDMONTON (CityNews) – The Alberta NDP are calling for an emergency debate on healthcare funding.

The Opposition made the announcement during a rally against proposed changes for Crohn’s and colitis patients on Sunday.

Those who attended the rally are concerned the Alberta government will follow B.C. in enforcing those on provincial coverage to switch from biologic drugs to cheaper, bio-synthetics.

“Switching and trying a new medication is so scary for so many people,” said Bryann Johsen who has Crohn’s disease and had an allergic reaction while trying to find the right medication.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the decision on drug coverage will come by the end of the year. He adds Health Canada states that bio-similars and biological drugs are equivalent in terms of quality safety and efficacy.

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Those at the rally including Crohn’s patient Nic Arrand disagree.

“If you switch away to the other drug and it doesn’t work, you can’t switch back in most cases, you’re body will produce antibodies to the previous drug you were on. To me, it’s asinine that I’m even here having this conversation. The government should have no right to tell you what medications to take.”

This debate along with the recent announcement of hundreds of nursing layoffs has prompted the NDP to call an emergency debate.

“This kind of attack on frontline healthcare workers, it’s a continuation of what we saw with Bill 9 when they broke their contracts,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd. “They are demanding that they roll back wages when they said they wouldn’t do that.”

The UCP and Premier Jason Kenney have defended the changes in health care spending saying the province saw a one per cent increase in spending from the previous budget and that taxpayers can’t afford to pay more.