New health minister promises change but says he won’t radically alter the system

By on September 25, 2014


Stephen Mandel. Photo by Dave Cournoyer / Flickr.
Stephen Mandel. Photo by Dave Cournoyer / Flickr.

EDMONTON—Alberta’s new health minister says there won’t be massive reforms to the province’s health care system but there will be changes in how things are done.

Stephen Mandel says the department is spending “enough money” that he wants to know first and foremost why so many people have to wait so long for surgery.

He says he wants to assess what the challenges are and how to fix them, adding he has some ideas but doesn’t know how good they are.

Mandel says it’s likely that he will kill a plan from the former government of Alison Redford to create 140 family care clinics.

He says he’s not absolutely sure yet, but he says the clinics “have a challenge in their history.”

Mandel was appointed to the portfolio by Premier Jim Prentice but does not hold a seat in the legislature, meaning he will have to win one in a byelection.

The former mayor of Edmonton says it is crucial to examine the health care system to see how it’s operating and how it can function better.

“I think it’s unacceptable that people have to wait months on end to get some kind of surgery,” he told his first news conference as health minister.

“I know I have a person who worked for me in my previous life and she had to wait nine or ten months until she got back surgery. She had been in a lot of pain. I don’t think the system that’s costing this much money should have that happen.”

But Mandel says people shouldn’t expect radical change.

“Let’s be fair, I’m not going to change the entire world or totally renovate it by tomorrow morning but we’ll do things over the next little while which we hope will make significant steps to reaching the goals which the premier set out for us,” he says.

“We have a system in place. We need to work with that and I don’t believe we should be looking to destroy that, what we need to look to improve it.”