This is from the Calgary Herald.
This is the same guy who hired a high profile Conservative to hunt for board members for his giant new Health Board.
If the cure for health problems and costs is to cut income, perhaps Liepert should have his income cut along with the highest paid executives in the Health Dept. As I understand it, delisting services would be quite limited because the Canada Health Act would not allow it. Anyway this would be cost shifting rather than cost saving. Liepert seems to be more concerned about cutting the growth of any democratic control over the system as much as he is concerned about costs. Otherwise, why would he not commit to bulk drug buying as other provinces such as Manitoba have. I guess his friends in the pharmaceutical industry do not like the idea.
Saturday » November 29 » 2008
Alberta 'pretty sloppy society,' says Liepert
Tough times will be good for our health
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A squeeze on disposable income as the economy nosedives could lead to healthier lifestyle choices, the province's health minister suggests, including fewer addictions and less obesity.
Speaking to the Canadian Club of Calgary on Friday, Ron Liepert said the financial high of the past 10 to 15 years has spawned a "pretty sloppy society."
"Somehow we've got to get Albertans to accept more personal responsibility for their behaviour," he said.
"I guess I'm hopeful that if people don't have the money to spend on Jolt and booze and everything else, maybe they won't become quite as addicted."
Less prosperity may also lower Albertans' expectations of what services should be covered under the public health-care system, added Liepert, who's leading the Alberta government's major over-haul of the medical regime.
"We're going to have some tough decisions to make in the budget coming next year and I think people are going to start to say, 'OK, maybe government shouldn't be covering everything,' " the health minister said after his speech.
Liepert's comments, which Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann labelled as "blame-the-victim" mentality, come as more health care changes are set to roll out.
On Monday, the province is unveiling a new plan broadly outlining the government's medical reforms. The plan will focus on sustainability of the medical system, whose costs have ballooned to $13.4 billion from$4.6 billion in 1998. However, the thorny issue of delisting services will not be addressed then, Liepert said.
Several other health announcements are planned, as the province's Dec. 15 deadline for this year's reforms looms.
A new continuing care strategy and pharmaceutical plan are on the horizon. Liepert said the pharmaceutical initiative will mention drugs for rare diseases, but a bulk-buying drug plan isn't yet in the cards. The Alberta government currently spends $1.2 billion annually on prescription drugs.
The province's medical reforms, which included dissolving nine health boards and creating a single entity, have sparked unease among opposition parties.
Swann said health professionals worry they're not being consulted. The new 15-member Alberta Health Services board includes just one physician.
"He's done none of this on the basis of evidence," said Swann, who took in Liepert's speech.
A former family doctor and medical officer of health, Swann pointed to Liepert's comments on the possible health benefits of an economic downturn as an example. Swann said problems such as drug addictions, sexually transmitted illnesses and obesity are fuelled by myriad factors.
"That's a blame-the-victim approach that has been consistent in the Conservative ideology," Swann said. "They fail to see the social conditions that are creating the conditions in which people are making poor choices."
Calgary dietitian Sarah Remmer also isn't certain less disposable income will lead to healthier food choices. "A lot of people eat fast food because it's inexpensive," said Remmer, adding studies have shown people living in lower-income communities are more overweight or obese.
© The Calgary Herald 2008
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