Alberta budget will increase healthcare spending: Doctors, NDP say not enough being done

As budget 2023 increases health operating expenses by $965 million in Alberta — 4.1 per cent — the opposition NDP is fearing it doesn’t account for inflation and population growth.

Those on the front line, want the public to know there are still issues in the health care system, that many say is still in crisis.

“The morale is very very low,” said Dr. Neeja Bakshi, internal medicine physician at the Royal Alexandra in north Edmonton.

Dr. Bakshi wakes up every day, to check hospital capacity. Daily findings state the hospital is over capacity. Edmonton has not seen a new hospital since the 1980s, even with a population that’s nearly doubled since then.

That’s part of the reason Dr. Bakshi is pushing back against comments made by the Alberta Health Services administrator Monday.

“When I started at Alberta Health Services in November, I was told this was a system in crisis and a broken organization, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I am here today, however, that AHS is not in crisis, and not broken,” said Dr. John Cowell, AHS administrator.


“To say that the health care crisis is improving, or to say that things are changing, is a statement that can’t be made if you haven’t addressed the primary care,” said Dr. Bakshi.

The internal medicine doctor cautions against only looking at surgery wait times, or ambulance response times. While important, those benchmarks miss huge pressure points in other parts of the healthcare ecosystem, like family doctors.

“Even if we were to say the hospital situation is dramatically improving, and we’ve improved flow, which we have not. I still have to discharge that patient and that patient needs a primary care physician to help them stay out of the hospital.”

While Cowell no longer believes the province is in a crisis, he does agree there is more work to bring up the quality of care.

“We remain very aware, that the COVID challenge is not gone. It still remains with us, as with the other infectious diseases, but we still have a lot more to be done,” said Cowell.

Medical professionals are raising concern about lab capacity, long-term care, and staffing.

“The front liners can tell you, that things have not changed, things are exactly the same,” explained Dr. Bakshi.

Budget 2023, includes mention of long-term care and staffing, along with a continued focus on emergency care.

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