Health Politics

Super Health Board, Not So Super

About nine months ago the Government of Alberta decided to fire the boards of the nine regional health authorities in the province and create a new “Super Health Board” they claimed would better serve the public.

Critics of the move predicted that it was a giant leap toward privatization of our health services. It hasn’t taken long but already the new board has begun dismantling our working public system.

The Super Board has announced plans to replace the Cytology Lab at the Lethbridge Regional Hospital with a private lab. The current Cytology Lab has an excellent record with excellent staff. No one locally wants this change, yet our shameful government wants to push forward with its privatization efforts at the cost of women’s health.

From a letter by Bev Muendel-Atherstone:

Our current Cytology Lab was started in 1951 by Dr. Ray Bainborugh, who is still alive today. In fact on Monday, March 30th, 2009, he was waiting outside the CRH parking lot to speak with the two fact finders for the Super Board. Dr. Bainborugh was able to tell reporters that the lab samples were previously sent to Calgary and Edmonton provincial Labs when he first started.

However, there were so many mistakes made, that he requested to be able to do the tests himself locally in Lethbridge. This was granted. He indicated he saved a woman from a Mastectomy as he redid the analysis on results he deemed “suspect.” Why would we in Lethbridge wish to go back to a system that did not work 58 years ago? That would be retrogressive.

If that weren’t enough to get you outraged, perhaps I should mention that the new Super Board (remember, they’ve been around for less than a year) justĀ voted themselves a 25% raise. They’ll now make around $50,000 annually, plus an additional $750 per meeting that they attend (they meet about four times a month).

Not only are they dismantling a working system, they’ll take more money to do it. How can I feel anything but outrage? Please Alberta, stop voting for the party that cares more about money than public welfare.

In the meantime, I hope the Super Board comes to realize that the people don’t want privatized medicine in Alberta.

Update: Some great news from the local NDP office. Yesterday, Monday, June 1st, 2009, the Lethbridge City Council voted to support the NDP’s presentation and will write to Premier Stelmach to request that the Gynocological/Cytology Lab remain in Lethbridge.

Mayor Bob Tarleck indicated that he has been very concerned about the erosion or services in the rural areas and the “hollowing out” of the rural areas with services centralized in Calgary and Edmonton.

Of course, this does not mean that this issue is finished. But now we do have the municipality on side. This moves the entire issue into a bigger political field with the city complaining to the province. The province must respond and then it is in the city’s court from there.

4 replies on “Super Health Board, Not So Super”

In the meantime, I hope the Super Board comes to realize that the people don’t want privatized medicine in Alberta.

As much as I’d like to agree, if you were right that Albertans don’t want privatized medicine, wouldn’t we stop voting in the party that keeps threatening to inflict it on us? It looks to me like the only people in this province who don’t want privatized health care are the same people who vote against the conservatives at every opportunity — in other words — a sad minority.

I don’t know one way or the other, but I suspect that the people voting in the Tories don’t realize what it is they are trying to do.

I guess it’s totally possible that the majority do want privatized health care, but I like to think that's not the case.


You and I disagree on many issues and this one will be no different. I am not saying that we should stop funding public medicine, but what I am saying is that we should be allowed to spend our money on private health care if we desire to purchase it. We should also be able to purchase health insurance so we can buy insurance to protect ourselves if we so desire.

If someone doesn't want to spend there money in that fashion, then the public system is still there for them to use. But for every person that gets taken out of the public system it will move up another person one place further ahead in the line.

The debate should not be public vs. private, but rather allowing a hybrid to flourish. There will be doctors who want to serve in the public system and there will be doctors who want to serve in the private system.

And as for the argument two tiered health care, well we already have it. Just ask any RCMP officer, hockey players, etc. Why not open it up too all?


In this particular instance, the situation is such that the new health board has decided to close a publicly funded local lab in order to provide services in a centralized location.

The cytology lab in Lethbridge has proven itself to provide better health care than the previous centralized lab. When it first opened, it redid tests that had been done wrong and prevented a woman from an unnecessary mastectomy.

This isn't such much a debate over public vs. private. it’s more a matter that the public system being dismantled in order to pave the way to a private system. That is the great fear for those opposed to a private system, that the public system will pay the price—and it looks like their fears are coming true.

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