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c is for centralization in health care.

Centralization seems to be the word of the day as Tory Health Minister Ron Liepert has disolved Alberta’s nine-regional health authorities, as well as the Alberta Cancer Board, Alberta Mental Health Board and Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, into one super mega health board – the Alberta Health Services Board.

What does this mean? Other than having a lot of former Tory patronage appointees looking for new jobs, it probably won’t change a lot for most Albertans. The new interim board will be made up of six new appointees including former Tory MP Ken Hughes and Klein-era Minister Jack Ady.

I have a three mains thoughts on move:

– This mega superboard could potentially ease the flow of medical information across Alberta, making it easier for Albertans in rural areas to access medical facilities in urban areas and vice-versa.

– By removing regional authority over decision making, decisions affecting local health care provision could be affected by a far-removed board that may not be in touch with local needs.

– Having not been mentioned anywhere in the Alberta PC election platform two months ago, you really have to wonder kind of mandate the Tories think Albertans gave them for the next four years. 72 seats = blank cheque.

In the medium-term, I don’t think this will produce any large changes for Albertans who need access to the health care system. By dissolving the regional boards, the provincial government looks like it’s taking some direct responsibility over health care, rather than hiding behind the decisions of hand-picked appointed boards.

See AGRDT and the Edmonton Journal for more.

UPDATE: Bill Given has some thoughts on how this change could affect cities like Grande Prairie.

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