Today, CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts was joined by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman at the former home of the demolished Calgary General Hospital, to call on Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party to come clean about what their deep cuts to health care will mean for families in Calgary, and across Alberta.
Calgary General Hospital was demolished by Alberta’s former conservative government in 1998 as part of a risky agenda to cut the health care services Albertans depended on. As the largest hospital in North America to ever be closed, the demolition made Calgary the only large city in Canada without a downtown emergency room, led to severe shortages of hospital bed space for over a decade, and resulted in millions of dollars being spent on private surgeries to meet the demands of a growing city. The destruction of the General, along with the closing of the Grace Hospital in 1996 and the Holy Cross Centre in 1997, left Calgary with 1,800 hospital beds, down from 3,000.
With UCP Leader Jason Kenney proposing 20 per cent cuts to health care to fund tax giveaways for those at the top, with UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken recently calling the badly-needed Calgary Cancer Centre a “fancy box,” the United Conservatives are slated to debate a range of policies related to drastically cutting and privatizing health care. Given their history, Albertans should be worried about Kenney’s plans for health care.
“The demolition of this hospital was devastating to families, health care workers, and to all Calgarians. Watching the footage of the conservatives literally blowing up a hospital, I worry about what another conservative government would mean for families in Calgary. We can’t let Jason Kenney pay for his tax breaks for the rich with deep cuts to the services we depend on,” said Marle Roberts, CUPE Alberta President.
“The conservatives want to slash health care, fire nurses and bring back the old days of queue jumping for their wealthy donors. Albertans have seen what their cuts mean, and they rejected two-tier, American-style health care. It’s time for Jason Kenney to be honest about his reckless agenda,” said Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health.
The hospital closure was the result of nearly $100 million in cuts to health care funding during the 1990s by the former conservative government, along with firing and laying-off health care workers, and hospital and emergency room closures across the province.
It cost $8.5 million to demolish the Calgary General Hospital.