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UCP raised health spending by 2.4% for COVID-19, after slashing it by 5.2%

The UCP government recently increased the health budget by $500 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This sounds impressive, but context reveals more about that increase.

When you visit the health and eduction page for Budget 2020 on the Alberta government website, you’re met with the following message.

The Government of Alberta has committed $500 million extra this year to respond to the public health crisis and to support front-line health professionals working to keep Albertans safe and healthy. This is in addition to the $20.6 billion allocated for health care in Budget 2020.

They’ve actually increased the budget by 2.4% in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This sounds impressive, but as my regular readers know, there’s information hidden in the context missing from that statement.

The website is correct that the Government of Alberta has allocated $20.6 billion for health spending for the 2020–2021 budget year. Well, technically, it’s $20.616 billion.

However, that amount is actually too low. It doesn’t account for inflation or population growth. If the current government included population growth and inflation when they calculated their projections, this number should’ve actually been $21,739.67.

That’s $1.125 billion more than they’ve budgeted.

So, the UCP government underfunded healthcare by $1.125 billion then boosted it by $0.5 billion. They underfunded it by 5.17%, then increased it by only 2.4%.

Had the government simply funded healthcare for population levels and inflation, the current healthcare budget would’ve been increased by 2.25 times more than it is with this $500 million injection.

Had they maintained proper funding levels and then added an additional $500 million, the health care budget increase would have been 3.25 times more than this $500 million injection.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on social issues and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him.

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