WHEREAS the province of Alberta has a democratic tradition involving the active participation of its citizens in electing representatives to various offices and bodies, through democratic elections;AND WHEREAS active participation of Albertas citizens used to include electing representatives to local hospital boards and authorities; AND WHEREAS the provincial government has eliminated local hospital boards, replacing these bodies with large regional health authorities; AND WHEREAS under the current Regional Health Authorities Act, Chapter R-10, RSA 2000, regional health authorities representatives are appointed by the Minister of Health and Wellness, not democratically elected by the citizens of the province; AND WHEREAS health care is dependent on funding from the public purse, and provides an essential service that deserves input from the same citizens who are taxed for the purpose of providing health services;AND WHEREAS the provincial government has chosen to create large regional health boards with appointed trustees;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to amend the Regional Health Authorities Act to return to the democratic process of electing representatives to regional health boards in the province of Alberta.
In the past, local hospital boards were elected bodies, with representation chosen by the voters living within the designated area of coverage. In recent years, however, the provincial government has moved away from smaller, more localized hospital boards, and established a system of larger health regions with appointed board members. The provincial governments motives are not completely understood (better bureaucratic efficiency and a lessening of arguments over funding/financing are two points put forward to support the provincial governments actions), but there is little or no evidence to indicate that appointed boards have improved health care.It seems unusual that the only province in Canada to actively elect its recommended senators would choose to eliminate the democratic process of allowing the election of local representatives to local health authorities.
Resolution ER1-02F, endorsed at the Fall 2002 Convention, urges the provincial government to move to 100% election of RHAs, and to undertake consultation with Albertans regarding future planning for health care in Alberta. The resolution also requests an extensive review of regionalization of health authorities and highlights concerns regarding erosion of rural health care services.The government response to this resolution indicates that members of RHA boards will be chosen from existing board members, both appointed and elected, and further states that “whether board members are appointed or elected does not affect how Albertans bring their health concerns forward. Appointed and elected board members are equally accountable to the residents of the region.” The AAMDC has not accepted this response, and continues to work to promote improved access to health services for rural Albertans, while also continuing to encourage the provincial government to return to the election of RHA board members by local communities.