MEDIA RELEASE: Question of the week for GPA leadership candidates — On improvements to Alberta’s healthcare system

Question and answers of the week:  On improvements to healthcare

October 2, 2017

The Green Party of Alberta will be voting for a new leader in Red Deer on November 4th.  To give party members and the general public a better idea of what the five leadership candidates stand for, the GPA’s Leadership Campaign Committee is posing a different question to them each week in the lead-up to the vote.

This week’s question, the second in the series, is this:  What would your priorities be for improving Alberta’s healthcare system, and what would your plan be for finding the funds necessary to achieve these improvements without increasing the deficit?

The candidates were given a 150-word limit.

Not all candidates met the deadline for submission of answers.  Here are the responses from the three who did:

Brian Deheer:  I would prioritize preventative health care to reduce the need for health services.  This would include: healthy living, good nutrition habits, active lifestyles, physical fitness, outdoor recreation, positive mental health and engagement with one’s community.

I’d also look for greater efficiencies in the provision of healthcare services, with various medical services located strategically across the province. I’d look for a balance between specialized services in key locations, and reduced travel distances for patients using those services. I’d also strive for services not to be diminished or diluted due to staff not being located in the communities that require the services.

Financing: I note there is discussion over reintroducing the Healthcare premium.  I don’t favor this as a first option.  If it were considered, I’d argue for a progressive premium rate that aided low-income earners.

Romy Tittel:  As individuals, we must take ownership of our health by maintaining good health rather than wait until illnesses occur to seek medical attention. This will take education for us and our healthcare professionals. We also must understand our systems so that we can utilize them appropriately. Our healthcare providers must also be part of our healthcare team so that we are not working at cross-purposes or duplicating tests and procedures. We will also need to be proactive about reducing our healthcare costs by the use of technology and programs like universal Pharmacare.

Once we implement the full spectrum of these changes, we can then review the need for charging premiums. My hope is that with these elements working together, our healthcare costs will be greatly reduced and we can all have robust, timely and effective healthcare in Alberta.

James Friesen:  I would focus on efficient use of resources. Not every patient needs every diagnostic test. Avoiding waste is a sensible approach, but can be difficult to implement

I would create a provincial pharmacare program with bulk buying of drugs at a provincial level to provide at lower cost to hospitals and healthcare providers. There are three drug salesmen, and there are many offers of conferences in exotic locations to better acquaint doctors with the prescription drugs on offer. A provincial pharmacare program would end both of these wastes.

I would work toward expanding the availability of lower cost long-term care and recuperation beds, leaving high-cost post-op beds available for people who really need them.

I would provide student loan forgiveness incentives for graduating doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health-care professionals who agree to staff rural facilities and family practice clinics where recruitment is currently a problem.

Contact information for the candidates:

Romy Tittel;;  (403) 608-1380

James Friesen;;  (780) 978-1874

Brian Deheer;;  (780) 623-4754

Marco Reid;;  (403) 860-1173

Grant Neufeld;; (403) 630-7615

For information on the GPA generally, go to or contact the GPA president or current leader:

Janet Keeping 403-283-8085, 403-383-1356

Carl Svoboda 403-282-3863, 403-804-6869


Comments 1

  • Preventive health care requires an acknowledgement of the effects of environmental degradation on the ability of people to maintain their own health. Air pollution and water contamination have affected Albertans’ health in many ways, few of which are acknowledged. Healthcare workers need to become more sophisticated in recognizing and treating the effects of toxic exposure, especially considering the proliferation of unconventional drilling (fracking) by the oil and gas industry.

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