Health Policy in Alberta
Who Pays for Health Care?
Publicly funded health care is financed with general revenue raised through federal, provincial and territorial taxation, such as personal and corporate taxes, sales taxes, payroll levies and other revenue. Provinces may also charge a health premium on their residents to help pay for publicly funded health care services, but non-payment of a premium must not limit access to medically necessary health services.
Provincial governments are responsible for setting budgets for health care spending and management of their health care system and related services that affect broad determinants of health. The federal government is permitted to spend money in the area of health care, either through fiscal transfers to the provinces or directly to individuals and groups. The federal government supports provincial health care systems through transfer payments and uses this money to influence provincial policy-making in the area of health care. It provides money to the provinces if they implement programs and policies that are consistent with federal objectives.
Funding Alberta’s Health System
- The Ministry of Health budget is $22.1 billion, which reflects a Health Ministry consolidated operating budget increase of 8.33%.
- Every hour Alberta Health will spend $2.5 million – $60 million per day – to maintain and improve Alberta’s health care system.
- The Ministry of Health includes the Department of Health, Alberta Health Services and the Health Quality Council of Alberta.
Primary Health Care and Other Department-funded Health Programs
- The Department has budgeted $248 million to support primary health care and $87 million to support addictions and mental health initiatives including opioid response initiatives and implementation of Valuing Mental Health Initiatives.
- The Department has budgeted $721 million for several other health system priorities including human tissue and blood services, out of province health services, population and public health programs, health research, cancer research and prevention, services provided by allied health professionals (such as oral surgeons, optometrists and podiatrists), vaccination programs, information systems development and operations.
Health Policy in Alberta
Alberta Health is the ministry that sets policy, legislation and standards for the health system in Alberta. The ministry allocates health funding and administers provincial programs such as the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan and provides expertise on communicable disease control.
The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health provides direction and guidelines on public health policy to Alberta Health Services, and gives information to the public about communicable diseases and public health programs.
Health services in Alberta are delivered by Alberta Health Services. Some public health services may also be provided by private health care clinics, for example, dentists’ offices.
The Alberta Health Services Board was re-introduced on October 23, 2015 with Linda Hughes appointed as the Board Chair. The Board is responsible for the governance of Alberta Health Services, working in partnership with Alberta Health to ensure all Albertans have access to high quality health services across the province. The Board is accountable to the Minister of Health.