Health Care and the Alberta 2020 Budget
Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews tabled the 2020-21 Alberta budget yesterday and, as expected, the overall tone of the speech revolved around a plan to stimulate the Alberta economy and create jobs by making it easier for people to do business in our province. This, along with continuing on the course to reduce spending by 2.8% across government - while maintaining spending levels for health care, education and core social services - is central to the governments' plan to balance the budget by 2023.
Focusing in on the health component of the provincial budget Finance Minister Toews announced projected health spending of $20.6B - equalivalent to the 2019-20 budget (see table 2). In Tuesday's throne speech Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell said, "we cannot continue to spend more for less while going deeper into debt". Consequently, it was no surprise that Minister Toews' focus for health care dollars was pitched around two overarching themes: efficiency and effectiveness. Minister Toews' justification for this is shown in the table below (see table 1) that Alberta spends $997 more on health care per person than comparable provinces, yet, other provinces achieve better outcomes in key areas.
Key health related highlights mentioned in the fiscal plan include:
$100M for continuing the Addiction and Mental Health Strategy
$500M (over the next 3 years) towards reducing surgical wait times
Completing implementation of province wide clinical information system - Connect Care
Addition of 1,200 new midwifery courses of care Commission new long-term care and designated supportive living spaces
Opportunities to enhance digital health in Alberta through Alberta Innovates
Introducing a 20% tax on vaping products
Continuing with maximum allowable cost drug policy announced in 2019
Changes to the seniors drug program removing coverage for spouses and dependents younger than 65, as of March 1, 2020 - plus income tested deductibles introduced later this year for higher income beneficiaries
Maintaining physician compensation at $5.4B
$2.5B (over the next 3 years) in capital spending for health facilities, this includes $35M for the the Rural Health Facilities Revitalization Program
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