COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
“The historic investment in health care in Budget 2021 reflects the Alberta government’s top priority – protecting Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues, keeping Albertans healthy is key to driving our economic recovery. Increased investment in health care will ensure Alberta remains a leader in vaccine administration so we can see further reopening of our economy, our lives and our livelihoods.”
COVID-19 one-time funding of $1.25 billion has been allocated to respond to the pandemic. This is in addition to the $23 billion in total expense allocated for Health, a $900-million increase, or four per cent, from last year. This represents the largest single-year investment in health care in Alberta history.
“Budget 2021 is good news for health care in Alberta. The health system has responded swiftly and effectively to address health-care pressures associated with the pandemic. We are staying true to our promise of prioritizing health-care funding and ensuring Albertans continue to have access to a quality and sustainable health system – whenever they need it.”
“Budget 2021 ensures that our health-care system has the resources required to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta’s government will remain nimble to respond to the needs of Albertans as they emerge while ensuring that Alberta’s economy is on the path to recovery and growth.”
The one-time funding is set up through Treasury Board and Finance to ensure availability, as needed, to priority areas in the health system and across government. Spending has not been predetermined to ensure flexibility within the pandemic response.
However, it is likely that the $1.25-billion contingency funding will be focused on priorities such as acute care, continuing care, testing and assessment centres, contact tracing, surgical backlog caused by the pandemic, personal protective equipment, vaccine deployment and supports to shelters and vulnerable Albertans. Any COVID contingency spending is subject to approval from cabinet and Treasury Board.
“I’m confident Alberta Health Services will be well-resourced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic with the funding being made available through Budget 2021, as well as be well-positioned to meet the health needs of Albertans in the years to come.”
Health spending highlights
- In addition to the one-time $1.25-billion COVID funding, Budget 2021 total health spend is $23 billion, an increase of $900 million, or four per cent, from 2020-21. This includes:
- $5.4 billion for physician compensation and development, consistent with last year.
- $3.5 billion combined for community care, continuing care and home care programs, an increase of $200 million, or six per cent, from 2020-21.
- $1.9 billion for drugs and supplemental health benefit programs, an increase of almost $200 million from 2020-21, to address higher drug costs and increased program enrolment.
- $140 million over four years to increase access to mental health and addiction services, add more than 4,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces for Albertans and create a recovery-oriented system of care.
- $34 million for children’s health supports to expand mental health and rehabilitation services for children and youth.
- Budget 2021 provides $16 billion for Alberta Health Services operations. In addition to responding to the pandemic, strategic priorities such as the Alberta Surgical Initiative, Continuing Care Capacity Plan, and CT and MRI Access Initiative are key priorities for this year.
Budget 2021 protects lives and livelihoods with a historic investment in health care while laying the foundation for economic growth. Through the prudent management of tax dollars, Alberta’s government can continue to invest in priority areas to ensure Alberta emerges from COVID-19 stronger than ever.