Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been under constant attack from Premier Danielle Smith for what she calls a broken system, and it continued to be an emphasized talking point during the United Conservative Party's (UCP) Annual General Meeting (AGM).
During the AGM, Smith said she looks to make big changes to the structure of AHS as she seeks to fix healthcare-related issues that have sprung up since the pandemic.
"We have far too many managers and consultants and not enough frontline staff. That simply must change and we can't wait any longer. Most of those managing AHS today are holdovers from the NDP years, they have had their chance to fix this bloated system and they have largely failed on almost all accounts. A failure is no longer an option, so working with Minister Jason Copping and without disrupting frontline services, we will make the substantive changes that need to be made without delay," she said.
The changes she looks to make will hope to improve ambulance response times, decrease wait times in hospitals, and move people who need care but not hospital beds to appropriate facilities. She added there will be announcements on this soon.
In an interview with the Western Standard following the AGM, Smith said she plans on holding AHS accountable for what she views as a failure of the healthcare system that they should be blamed for. This would include a restructuring of the board, as Smith says "this is not an institution I want to maintain as is," which she says would happen sooner rather than later.
"I believe that Alberta Health Services is the source of a lot of the problems that we've had. The experts let us down, so I'm not interested in taking any advice from them."
As for the future of the Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw, Smith said she'll be working with Health Minister Jason Copping to make a joint decision process on whether or not she will be relieved of her duties.
Should these changes go through, Smith said she expects it won't be an easy road ahead, but looks to make sweeping, sudden changes to rip the proverbial band-aid off.
"I know it's going to be a little bit bumpy for the next 90 days and we want to hear the feedback if we're making any mistakes along the way. But keeping things the way they are is not an option. There has to be some accountability for what happened over the past two and a half years and we also have to make sure that we are putting in place the resources at the local level so people can get the health care that they need."