Alberta politicians need to slam the brakes on spending

The bigger the rig, the harder it is to stop.

So, when runaway spending hits Alberta’s biggest expense, tapping the pedal is not an option.

It’s time to stomp on the brakes.

Health care is the single, most important thing government offers Albertans.

It needs to be there when we need it.

We deserve a well-funded, patient-centred system.

That’s non-negotiable.

But when health eats up nearly half of the entire budget of the province of Alberta, there is little doubt there is waste to trim.

At present, funding Alberta Health costs $2.1 million an hour — more than $50 million a day.

A total of $18.3 billion — about 45% of the entire Alberta budget — goes to health.

While we would never advocate cutting from the front line or urgent needs, we have to question how it can cost $18 billion to tend to just over four million Albertans.

This is where we come back to the big rig analogy.

When something is that large and cumbersome, it’s easy to hide waste.

It’s hard to shine a spotlight in every corner.

But that is exactly what this province needs.

Find the pennies that add up to dollars.

Sick days by staff (an average 10 per staff member) costs $190 million. Reduce that number by half and save $95 million.

AHS has spent $28 million in severance since 2011.

Scrap that nonesense, at once.

In the big scheme of things, $825,000 in cellphone bills (among those whose bills are more than $500) may seem like small potatoes when Alberta Health rings up a $14-million cellphone bill each year.

But those small potatoes add up.

Before we talk of staff reductions and diminished services, let’s make sure every penny left in the couch cushions has been added up.

In this time of belt-tightening, no one is saying gut the front line.

But if we don’t slam the brakes on dumb spending now, the impeding crash could prove disastrous.​

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