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Health Minister Adriana LaGrange charged with extensive to do list


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Minister of Health mandate letter

Premier Danielle Smith has issued a mandate letter to Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange calling on her to ensure Albertans have improved access to world-class health care.

In her letter, the Premier outlines her expectations that Alberta fosters an environment within AHS and the entire health community that welcomes innovation and incentivizes the best patient care within the pillars of the Canada Health Act so that no Albertan will ever have to pay out-of-pocket to see their doctor or receive a needed medical treatment. The Premier asks Minister LaGrange to deliver on platform commitments including:

  • Investing $6 million to add five more conditions to the Alberta Newborn Screening Program: congenital cytomegalovirus, argininosuccinic aciduria, guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, mucopolysaccharidosis type 1, and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA lyase.
  • Adding more obstetrics doctors for communities in need, including Lethbridge and Fort McMurray.
  • Investing approximately $10 million to develop and implement a province-wide midwifery  strategy.
  • Providing the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation Legacy Grant – a one-time $10-million investment to support women-focused research, advocacy, and care.

The Premier also tasks Minister LaGrange with:

  • Resolving the unacceptable lab services delay challenge so that lab service access is timely across all areas of the province.
  • Continuing to improve emergency medical services response times, decrease surgical backlogs, and cut emergency room wait times.
  • Continuing to implement the recommendations from the Alberta EMS Provincial Advisory Committee and the PricewaterhouseCoopers EMS Dispatch Review to ensure EMS dispatch is being conducted in a way that provides the highest levels of service to Albertans in every part of the province, with special consideration for addressing local resources, challenges and concerns.
  • Supporting primary care as the foundation of our health care system by assessing alternative models of care and leveraging all health care professionals. This includes continuing the work of the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System initiative, assessing alternative compensation models for family physicians and nurse practitioners, improving the management of chronic disease, and increasing the number of Albertans attached to a medical home.
  • Providing better care to seniors by implementing recommendations from the Facility-Based Continuing Care Review and the Advancing Palliative and End-of-life Care in Alberta report. This includes ongoing work to add continuing care congregate spaces and to help seniors stay in their homes longer with additional supports and appropriate home care.
  • Developing a series of reforms to the health care system that enhance local decision-making authority, improve health care services for all Albertans, and create a more collaborative working environment for our health care workers by incentivizing regional innovation and increasing our ability to attract and retain the health care workers we need.
  • Working to address rural health challenges such as access to health care professionals.
  • Working with municipalities, post-secondary institutions, doctors, and allied health providers to identify strategies to attract and retain health care workers to rural Alberta.
  • Collaborating with the Minister of Technology and Innovation to perform an independent review of the effectiveness of the information technology systems used throughout Alberta’s health system and provide recommendations on how to strengthen Alberta’s health-care system through the use of technology.
  • Working with the Minister of Advanced Education, who is the lead, to develop streamlined automated credentialing for front-line health care workers, doctors, nurses, and paramedics.
  • Addressing health care staffing challenges, particularly in rural areas, by:
    • Improving health workforce planning.
    • Evaluating retention policies.
    • Leveraging the scope of allied health professionals.
    • Working with the Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, who is lead, to streamline immigration and certification processes.
    • Increasing the number of training seats for health care professionals in Alberta.
    • Fully implementing the recently negotiated Alberta Medical Association agreement.
  • Working closely with the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, who is the lead, to ensure that recovery from mental health and addiction and increasing the recovery capital of Albertans is a guiding policy in modernizing Alberta’s primary health care system.
  • Working with the Minister of Technology and Innovation, who is lead, to explore the feasibility of creating an Alberta health spending account to support improved health outcomes for Albertans.
  • Working with the Minister of Justice, who is the lead, to assess the proposed federal medical assistance in dying legislation amendments that would include those with mental health conditions and recommend Alberta’s regulation of the profession regarding this proposed legislation.
  • Designing a health ministry-specific job-attraction strategy that raises awareness for young Albertans (aged 16 to 24) and adults changing careers about the skilled trades and professions available in each economic sector, including pathways for education, apprenticeship, and training.

“Health care touches the lives of every Albertan. I look forward to working with our partners in health care delivery towards new and innovative solutions to address the commitments in my mandate letter. I truly believe by working together with our healthcare professionals to find solutions, we can ensure Alberta will have the best health care system in the country and indeed the world.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health


Provinces should be cautious about cost-sharing agreements with Ottawa

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

According to Premier Danielle Smith, Alberta will withdraw from the federal government’s dental care plan by 2026 mainly because the plan would duplicate coverage already provided to many Albertans (although she plans to negotiate unconditional funding in lieu of being in the program). Indeed, all provinces should be wary of entering into such agreements as history has shown that Ottawa can reduce or eliminate funding at any time, leaving the provinces holding the bag.

In the 1990s, for instance, the federal government reduced health and social transfers to the provinces amid a fiscal crisis fuelled by decades of unrestrained spending and persistent deficits (and worsened by high interest rates). Gross federal debt increased from $38.9 billion in 1970/71 to $615.9 billion in 1993/94, at which point debt interest costs consumed roughly $1 in every $3 of federal government revenue.

In response to this debt crisis, the Chrétien Liberal government reduced spending across nearly all federal departments and programs. Over a three-year period to 1996/97, health and social transfers to the provinces were 51 per cent ($41.0 billion) less than what the provinces expected based on previous transfers. In other words, the provinces suddenly got a lot less money from Ottawa than they anticipated.

This should serve as a warning for the provinces who may find themselves on the hook for Ottawa’s big spending today. In the case of dental care, an area of provincial jurisdiction, the Trudeau government has earmarked $4.4 billion  annually for the provinces on an ongoing basis. However, any change in federal priorities or federal finances could swing the financial burden from Ottawa to the provinces to maintain the program.

The current state of federal finances only heightens this risk to the provinces. The federal government has run uninterrupted budget deficits since 2007/08, with total federal debt climbing from $707.3 billion in 2007/08 to a projected $2.1 trillion in 2024/25. The current government—or perhaps a future reform-minded government focused on balancing the budget—could reduce transfers to the provinces.

The Trudeau government has committed to significant new funding in areas of provincial jurisdiction, but provincial policymakers would do well to understand the risks of entering into such agreements. Ottawa can unilaterally reduce or eliminate funding at any point, leaving provinces to either assume the unexpected financial burden through higher taxes or additional borrowing, or curtail the programs.

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Just in time for Canada Day weekend! Crescent Falls ready to be enjoyed again

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The new staircase structure and viewing platform are among many upgrades that visitors can look forward to at the reopening Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. (Credit: Alberta Parks).

The popular Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area reopens following a significant capital investment to improve visitor safety and experiences.

Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area is ready to welcome visitors back to enjoy one of the most remarkable, accessible waterfall viewing opportunities in Alberta. The upgrades at Crescent Falls will help improve the park’s visitor experience. Guests can expect expanded parking, improved access roads, trails and day use areas, new and improved viewing areas to take in the falls and upgraded safety measures, including signage and wayfinding.

The Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) is reopening over the July long weekend after being closed since 2023. Visitors will notice increased public safety upgrades through additions such as new parking lots, a new stair structure to access the lower falls, new pedestrian trails, a new vehicle bridge to access the camping area and a viewing platform to enjoy the Crescent Falls.

“We are thrilled to welcome visitors back to Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area in time for the Canada Day long weekend. These additions will help visitors to safely access and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Parks are for people and Alberta’s government will continue to invest in high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

“Today marks a significant milestone for our community as we reopen the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area following extensive upgrades. Our province is well known for its incredible natural beauty, and these improvements will make our backcountry more accessible and ensure that Albertans and those visiting our great province can continue to explore our stunning landscapes for years to come.”

Jason Nixon, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
This project is part of an investment of more than $12 million to upgrade 13 sites along the David Thompson Corridor. The improvements at Crescent Falls will provide improved safety measures and better visitor access to and from popular tourist destinations in the area. Partners from Clearwater County, Rocky Mountain House and other organizations were critical in helping to move the upgrades forward. Clearwater County and its officials worked with Alberta Parks staff to advise on the upgrades needed around the area.

Alberta’s government is committed to reconciliation and acknowledges the significance of the land around Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. The completed upgrades reflect an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation opportunities while protecting the land’s natural and cultural values so it can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

“The Alberta Government’s reopening of Crescent Falls is a remarkable achievement for our region. This project not only enhances recreational opportunities, natural beauty and accessibility in our area but also means safer, more enjoyable visits for our citizens and visitors alike.”

Michelle Swanson, councillor, Clearwater County

“The Town of Rocky Mountain House is where adventure begins, and we are thrilled that Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area has reopened to the public in time for the summer adventure season. This is a wonderful day trip destination for visitors and residents alike setting out from Rocky Mountain House. The provincial investment has only improved its accessibility and safety, making it a must-see destination if you are in the area.”

Dale Shippelt, incoming deputy mayor, Rocky Mountain House

“Westward Bound Campgrounds is the proud facility operator of the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area and we are very excited to see our campers and visitors return to its beauty. These upgrades will have a significant impact on enhancing guest satisfaction levels, providing unique and memorable camper and visitor experiences while providing a safe environment to enjoy spectacular scenery.”

Lonnie and Edena Earl, Westward Bound Campgrounds

This work is part of an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation and camping opportunities, building trails and facilities and ensuring Alberta’s provincial parks can be enjoyed by all Albertans.

Quick facts

  • The upgrades at Crescent Falls PRA include the following improvements:
    • Enlarging the existing parking area
    • Developing a new parking area for large RV vehicles
    • Upgrading the access roads down to the lower area
    • Installing a new pedestrian trail to the lower day use area
    • Installing a new vehicle crossing from the day use to the camping site
    • Upgrading and expanding the day use areas
    • Increasing signage
    • Installing additional toilets and bear-proof garbage bins
    • Developing a new stair structure to access the lower falls areas with a viewing platform
  • Enhancing safety features throughout the PRA. The upgrades were part of a significant capital investment of $12.3 million by Alberta’s government to address safety and experience opportunities in 13 key provincial recreation sites along the David Thompson Corridor. Along with Crescent Falls PRA, other sites that were upgraded include:
    • Bighorn Dam Recreation Area
    • The following 11 Public lands and parks sites:
    • Coliseum
    • Allstone
    • Abraham Slabs
    • Hoo Doo Creek
    • Coral Creek
    • Pinto Creek
    • Preachers Point
    • Cavalcade
    • Kinglet/Tuff Puff
    • Wildhorse
    • Owen Creek
  • Crescent Falls PRA is located 22 km west of Nordegg on Highway 11 and 6 km north on a gravel access road. Crescent Falls PRA has a first-come, first-served campground with 12 tent-only sites and 22 RV sites. The day use area includes multiple viewing platforms of the upper and lower falls and picnic tables with views of the river. Access to the lower day use area is available on a 0.8 km trail from the main parking area or, alternatively, from the Bighorn Canyon lookout via a 3 km trail. The lower day use area also has accessible-only parking stalls adjacent to the viewing platforms with an accessible vault toilet and picnic areas.

Related information

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