Albertans want to pay for healthcare, says finance minister

CALGARY – Alberta’s healthcare premiums were eliminated by then-Premier Ed Stelmach almost seven years ago, but they now seem poised to return under Premier Jim Prentice.

“I’m keen on it because Albertans are saying they want to do it,” Finance Minister Robin Campbell told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“Albertans have been very clear as I go across the province that they understand that they should be paying something for healthcare.”

Campbell said the premiums would be on a “per person” basis but acknowledged it would be different than in the past, when the government paid the fees for all of its workers.

“Because we are the biggest employer… there’s no use bringing a healthcare premium in if the government’s paying it,” said Campbell. “So we have to make sure we’re getting the best bang for that.”

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In the past, the fee for a family had been just over $1,056 a year and just over $528 for a single person, with payment exceptions for lower-income Albertans and seniors. The fee generated about $1 billion a year for the provincial government.

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Campbell said he’s “thrilled” by the number of responses he’s received in surveys submitted by Alberta residents, and that they’ll be taken into consideration before deciding on the budget.

To participate in the government’s 10-15 minute online budget survey, click here until Feb. 28

But the NDP says Prentice and his party are out of touch with Albertans.

“When Premier Prentice talks about cutting nine per cent on one hand and leaving corporate taxes off the table on the other…we need someone who’s been in the trenches, who’s got credibility, standing up for vulnerable Albertans,” said Leader of Alberta’s NDP Rachel Notley at an announcement Joe Ceci would seek nomination in Calgary-Fort district.

“These budget cuts… are going to hurt not only vulnerable Albertans, but regular working Alberta families.”

The proposed premiums are still being developed by the PC government and are set to be included in its upcoming budget, expected to be unveiled in about four weeks.


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