In the final days of their campaigns, both NDP candidates for Airdrie-East and Airdrie-Cochrane, Dan Nelles and Shaun Fluker appeared alongside NDP Finance Critic and Lethbridge-West Candidate Shannon Phillips in Airdrie.
During the media event, Phillips enumerated what the NDP said were six key issues that could, in their view, have a detrimental impact on Albertans and Airdonians alike. Premier Smith's past comments suggesting that there is a path to privatizing healthcare were also harkened back to.
"Her belief in wanting to privatize our health care isn't just some offhanded comments but what she truly believes in," Phillips said. "It couldn't be more clear than that she believes visits to your family doctor should not be covered by the government."
The topic had also previously come up during a political candidates' forum in Airdrie earlier this month and UCP candidate for Airdrie-East Angela Pitt was quick to counter the notion.
"I'd like to talk about truth in advertising. The Premier has made it very clear and so does the Canada Health Act that it's illegal to pay to see a doctor unless you're accessing a private system in some way, shape or form," Pitt said previously. "Public health care is protected under federal law and there is no quantification of things that happened years ago on a radio show that will change that today."
Phillips also referenced previous comments by the Premier in 2021 suggesting that hospitals could be sold to private operators.
"By contrast, Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP have a publicly available costed plan that reflects the needs of Albertans and will ensure that Albertans who need a doctor, get a doctor. We won't sell hospitals, we will build them."
The NDP recently announced that they would allocate $23 million over the next three years for the initial planning and design of a new health center in North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre. Currently, the province's budget has allocated $3 million over three years for the planning of a North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre However, many residents have expressed concern that a health centre in North Calgary, does not go far enough in addressing the fact that Airdrie residents would still have to commute for their healthcare needs.
Discover Airdrie posed this question to both NDP candidates.
"Would we be advocating for something that would be situated within Airdrie? Absolutely - that conversation will occur," said Airdrie-East candidate, Dan Nelles. "However, we need to look at what overall Albertans' needs are, and balance that with a plan that's focused on meeting the needs of everybody. The location of the hospital is certainly given an issue to be looked at. But, we need to focus more on what problem [is that] we are trying to solve. The problem we're trying to solve is quality of care and timely access to care."
Shaun Fluker, candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane added that one of the NDP's primary campaign proposals is that of family health teams.
"[It]s designed to drastically improve primary care, which will take some of the stresses and pressures off of our hospitals and our emergency departments. We need to find a way to keep Airdrie and Cochran ambulances in those in those communities. So those are, I think, two big priorities that will drastically improve health care here in Airdrie and in Cochrane."
Prior to the press briefing by the NDP, the UCP had sent out a media release of their own claiming that there were documents which revealed that Airdrie-Cochrane NDP candidate Shaun Fluker, 'had supported Justin Trudeau’s “no more pipelines” act at the Supreme Court of Canada.'
Fluker said that considering he had not seen the press release, he could not go into a lengthy statement on its substance.
"I appeared as legal counsel on behalf of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. As is always the case in litigation or legal proceedings. I was there advocating on behalf of the client and the client's position in relation to that legislation. I wasn't there to assert my own position on that legislation."
Alberta's provincial election is on Monday, May 29. According to Elections Alberta, 327,404 Albertans across the province have already cast their ballots in advanced polls.
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