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Alberta moves to decentralize health-care delivery, 15 years after centralizing it

Alberta’s new health minister has been given the green light to decentralize the entire health-care delivery system — 15 years after the province completed a multistage, multiyear process to centralize it.
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Alberta’s new health minister has been given the green light to decentralize the entire health-care delivery system – 15 years after the province completed a multistage, multiyear process to centralize it. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an address at a conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday, July 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Alberta’s new health minister has been given the green light to decentralize the entire health-care delivery system — 15 years after the province completed a multistage, multiyear process to centralize it.

In a mandate letter, Premier Danielle Smith directs Health Minister Adriana LaGrange to reform the management and structure of Alberta Health Services to spread out decision-making to improve front-line care.

The decision sets in motion a reversal of government policy that began almost 30 years ago when then-premier Ralph Klein collapsed more than 200 health boards and agencies into 17 regional health authorities.

Those 17 authorities were later rolled into nine boards and then, in 2008, into the current stand-alone Alberta Health Services, better known as AHS.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, former premier Jason Kenney said the unified management structure allowed Alberta to get faster access and better prices for scarce supplies.

But Smith has sharply criticized AHS as being too slow to respond to front-line needs, particularly during the pandemic, and last year fired its board and replaced it with a single administrator.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press





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