Editorial – So what’s the plan?

Jeff Burgar

There are gorgeous orange signs and blue signs blossoming on boulevards and front yards, seemingly having sprouted after one of those spring rains.

Fortunately, these signs won’t be shedding seeds or pollinating stop signs, traffic lights, or even highway billboards. No going forth, being fruitful and multiplying.

These are strictly man-made signs. But, like so many insects or even some blossoming plants in nature, their lives will be short-lived. May 29 in fact. Provincial election day in Alberta.

According to election experts, there is only one battleground this time around.

Rural Alberta is solidly behind Danielle Smith. ‘Redmonton’ as it is usually nicknamed by all, is solid Rachel Notley country. Which leaves Calgary as where the election will supposedly be decided. You may differ, of course.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are so far no Liberal, Green, Alberta Party, or Wildrose strongholds. And probably won’t be.

After the 2015 election, premier Notley didn’t make any more mistakes than other rookie governments. She followed conventional wisdom right across the world. In decades of incremental bloopers we are now in what is rightly called the crisis in healthcare. Small towns in northern British Columbia pointed out to their own provincial government the situation was grave. It would not be solved by throwing money at the problem. That would only lead to jurisdiction fighting with jurisdiction draining their own bank accounts.

Of course, the braintrusts in Victoria didn’t listen. What do those small town folks know anyway? So the fight is now on to see who can go broke the fastest.

Long-term solutions, or at least ideas, in health care are everywhere. Alberta’s own 2015 Starke Report, after extensive surveys, outlined thoughts, Originally to be a three-part study of Alberta, they shut the study down after Phase Two. It was so overwhelmingly clear what Alberta wanted and needed.

Among the many recommendations in the Starke Report was a return to some form of local or regional health authority boards. Not the Alberta Super Board of today, which is disbanded but power centralized in Edmonton. Perhaps not as centralized as the old Grande Prairie Regional Board. Perhaps not as broken up as boards in Valleyview, Smoky River, Peace River, High Level and High Prairie. But definitely not what we have today.

The Starke Report was shelved after the 2015 election by Notley’s government. Perhaps better financial times would have made a difference. Perhaps not. Eight years later, health care is still a huge issue, if not even bigger.

An Alberta Police service won’t be much of an issue, Grande Prairie hasn’t even started theirs yet. But government paycheques, following the enormous payouts to federal employees, will certainly be on the table no matter who is elected. How long Canada can keep rolling out guaranteed pensions, top shelf wages in secure jobs, and gold plated benefits is anybody’s guess. But it isn’t forever, is it?

With only three weeks to go, still no clear vision of a future.

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