Public or private

Re: “AHS cancels Sonic lab testing contract,” Aug. 15.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has one of the most daunting portfolios in the Notley government. She has inherited a plethora of problems, none of her own making.

But she appears to believe she can channel the wisdom of Solomon and determine what the public-private mix should be when it comes to the delivery of laboratory medical services. It is a task of such magnitude that no other health minister has ever attempted to slice and dice it.

Hoffman cancelled a proposed $3-billion, 15-year contract with Australia-based Sonic Health Ltd., which would have included the construction of a super lab. It would have increased the private delivery of publicly funded lab services in northern Alberta to 74 per cent from 61 per cent.

Her decision came about a week after Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, publicly slammed Alberta Health Services for not providing economic evidence supporting private lab ownership in awarding the contract to Sonic.

Hoffman has asked for a review by the end of the year. Alberta taxpayers have a right to economic evidence supporting public-sector lab ownership.

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Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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