$68M for continuing care pandemic funding isn’t enough

This week, the Alberta government announced pandemic funding for continuing care. It’s 36% less than what it should be.

Earlier this week, the provincial government announced that they’d be spending more money on continuing care in the province, specifically related to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Increased health-care aide staffing levels
  • A wage top-up of an additional $2/hour for health-care aides
  • Up to 1,000 paid student practicum positions
  • $24.5 million for continuing care operators

In the announcement, the government said that “these new measures are estimated to cost an additional $7.3 million per month and are specific support for the pandemic period.”

It didn’t clarify whether the $24.5 million included the $7.3 million per month or was in addition to it. For their benefit, I’ll assume it’s in addition to it.

Let’s say the pandemic funding lasts for 6 months. Multiplying that by $7.3 million gives you $43.8 million. Tack on the $24.5 million, and we’re at $68.3 million in additional funding over the next 6 months.

In Budget 2020, the provincial government set aside $1.157 billion for continuing care.

That’s higher than the $1.121 billion the NDP had allocated in their last budget.

But, as I’ve already mentioned, the budget for this year doesn’t account for population growth or inflation. If it did, this year’s continuing care budget would actually be $1.185 billion. That’s a difference of $27.98 million. If you include the $10.19 million they underfunded last year’s budget by, that comes to $38.17 million.

So, while the $68.3 million in extra funding they announced this week increased their continuing care budget by 5.8%, it should actually be $106.47 million. That means they underfunded it by 35.9%.

Once again, this provincial government is underfunding health care. And in the middle of a pandemic.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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