On Friday, May 12, the Alberta NDP pledged that as part of their plan to build a better future for Calgary, they would infuse $1.2 billion into Calgary. But the investment would also go towards addressing healthcare in Airdrie.
According to a press release by the NDP, a portion of the money would towards funding the initial planning and design of a new health center in North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre to meet the growing need for 24/7 urgent care in the city and in nearby communities.
“Building the North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Hospital means increasing access to better healthcare for many families in growing communities across north Calgary, Airdrie, and rural communities like Olds, Didsbury, and Three Hills too.”
According to the NDP, a total of $23 million would be allocated over the next three years for the initial planning and design of a new health center in North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre.
During a political candidates forum earlier this week, the specifics of an Airdrie regional hospital were not asked, though the broader topic of access to healthcare was posed to both the UCP and NDP candidates. The question was posed by Airdrie City Councillor Tina Petrow during a portion of questions regarding municipal-provincial ties and relationships.
"Across the province and especially in the city of Airdrie, access to family physicians, walk-in clinics, preventative health supports mental health supports, EMS services - the primary health care system in general is extremely challenging. Many residents do not have a primary family doctor... Without easy access to the services, our residents are left with no other option, other than to visit the already busy, urgent care center for non-urgent issues. So, what will you and your party do to advance residents' access to health care?"
In his response, UCP MLA Peter Guthrie, the incumbent for Airdrie-Cochrane underlined that improving health care in Alberta is of the UCP's top priorities.
"We have top-notch quality workers here in Alberta, the best in the country and arguably probably around the world. As you may know, on the EMS issue - a task force was created to evaluate the systems and processes. We are now implementing that plan to reduce [EMS] response times."
However, NDP candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane Shaun Fluker said that the only path to making healthcare more accessible to the residents of his riding is to first repair the relationship that he feels has been fractured between the province and healthcare workers.
"The primary piece of our campaign platform is family health, whereby, we are going to ensure that at least 1 million Albertans have access to a family physician when they need it."
The current provincial budget which was announced some months, allocated $3 million over the next three years for the planning of the North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre. And to say the least, the Airdrie Health Foundation is disappointed in the lack of announcements.
Other planned projects by the NDP as part of the multi-billion dollar investment include projects such as the North Leg of the Green Line LRT. The project would see extending the project from 16 Avenue North to 160 Avenue North the Cancer Innovation Hub at Calgary Cancer Centre, and 40 New Schools & modernizations in Calgary. There are also plans for a permanent post-secondary campus in downtown Calgary, Downtown Revitalization, as well as supporting the City of Calgary’s efforts to build the remaining 11,500 units required to meet the city's goals of affordable housing by 2026.
Alberta's provincial election is on May 29.
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