What does NDP's landslide victory in Alberta say about single payer?

Alberta's health care system needs new prescription, NDP leader Rachel Notley tells Calgary crowd

By Dave Dormer
Calgary Sun, April 29, 2015

Restoring a $1 billion cut to funding and eliminating personal levies is the prescription to fixing an ailing health care system, NDP leader Rachel Notley said Wednesday.

“That is a private clinic behind me and that is what Jim Prentice has in mind for you and your family,” she said while campaigning in southwest Calgary.

“That is what a billion-dollar health care cutback leads to and I have a fundamental problem with private clinic health care.

“Private clinic health care is about building a two-tier system where the wealthy, the people who Jim Prentice and his friends represent, can pay to jump to the head of the line instead of treating people on the basis of need.”

Notley said private clinics draw resources away from the public health care system, ultimately undermining it.

“Instead of more of these clinics, I’m proposing we reverse the billion-dollar cutback to health care Mr. Prentice is asking you to vote for in this election and I’m also proposing that we get rid of the regressive health levy,” she said.

“And I’m proposing that we improve our public system with better diagnostics, better long-term care, better mental health care and just plain better health care overall, including better cancer care here in Calgary.

“On this issue, there’s a stark contrast between the vision I’m putting forward and what Mr. Prentice has to offer.”


Alberta election 2015 results: NDP wave sweeps across province in historic win

CBC News, May 6, 2015

It's a massive shock that turns Canadian politics on its head: the NDP has won a majority government in Alberta.  

"I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight," (NDP) leader Rachel Notley told her supporters Tuesday night. "Friends, I believe, that change has finally come to Alberta. New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province."

The long-governing PC Party dropped to third place. The outgoing premier Jim Prentice told his supporters late Tuesday that he had resigned as party leader and had resigned his seat.

The NDP won just over 41 per cent of the popular vote, the Wildrose got 24 per cent and the PCs were at about 28 per cent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Notley on her win.

"I look forward to working with future Premier Notley on issues of importance for Albertans and all Canadians, including creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity across the province and country," Harper said in a statement issued Wednesday. He also offered thanks to Prentice, a former minister in his cabinet, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

2015 results - Number of seats won (Number of seats at prior dissolution in parentheses)

10 (70) - Progressive Conservatives
1 (5) - Liberal Party
53 (4) - New Democratic Party
21 (5) - Wildrose Alliance Party
1 (0) - Alberta Party
1 - Undecided



By Don McCanne, MD

The landslide victory for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Alberta appears to represent not only a shift to supporting progressive values and away from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's conservative politics, but it also appears to be an endorsement of NDP's strong support of Alberta's single payer health program, with a rejection of recent trends in privatization of their system.

Lest the victors not become too smug and complacent, it should be pointed out that the progressives (New Democratic Party) received 41 percent of the popular vote, whereas the conservatives (Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose Alliance Party) received a combined 52 percent of the vote. (This may represent an oversimplification since some would label Harper's PC party as "neoliberal.")

Nevertheless it is reassuring to see a vote in one of Canada's most conservative provinces that seems to support their single payer public health system, while rejecting privatized two-tier health care.

What lessons might there be here for the United States?