Renewal 2006 – The need for health care renewal

The need for health care renewal

The Government of Alberta is committed to maintaining a strong public health care system – one that is accessible, sustainable and focused on providing the best care possible. This commitment means looking ahead and preparing today to meet the challenges of the future.

In coming years, Alberta’s health care system will face increasing pressure from an aging population, new medical advances and the rising cost of prescription drugs. Without making changes, Alberta’s public health care system will not be sustainable. Health care renewal is needed to ensure that all Albertans continue to have access to the excellent public health care system we value.

In July 2005, the Alberta government released Getting on With Better Health Care, an action plan that outlined 13 renewal initiatives. This made-in-Alberta approach was about unleashing innovation, challenging the status quo and charting a new course to make our health care system among the best in the world.

One of the key actions was the development of on overall health policy to help guide health leaders as they tackled some of the difficult challenges of the 21st century. The policy directions were to lead the way to a more responsive and sustainable health system for Albertans now and in the years to come.

Alberta’s Health Policy Framework – what we heard

A new health policy framework guiding the renewal of Alberta’s public health care system was released in February 2006. Albertans were invited to share their thoughts and ideas on the 10 policy directions it suggested.

The Government of Alberta received 6,416 letters, e-mails, phone calls and on-line feedback submissions on the Health Policy Framework. The Minister of Health and Wellness also met with 429 people from 100 stakeholder groups. Government also conducted polling to further understand Albertan’s awareness and support of the proposals.

The updated Health Policy Framework reflected the broad range of ideas that were heard from Albertans in the spring of 2006, including the need to ensure timely access to health services along with an adequate future supply of health service providers.

To incorporate what was heard from Albertans, the updated framework contained eight policy directions rather than the 10 that were originally proposed. One of the directions was refocused to further emphasize the need to expand workforce capacity and system capability. Under each policy direction, there was an expanded discussion about the challenges faced by the health system, successes to date and a plan of action.

The policy directions within the framework also reflected the recommendations of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Health that were released in 2002. The advisory council's recommendations were designed to put the health system on a sustainable foundation for the future.