Saturday, February 16, 2008

Broadening Access to Healthcare and Enhancing Education

Although the P"C"s at least acknowledged that many Albertans have difficulty getting timely access to a physician, their solution was to graduate vastly more health professionals and, again, this just doesn't work. The long run supply curve can only be moved out slowly, as I've noted before, and that includes the supply of medical education in the province. Moreover, what is the point if the graduates leave the province?

The Wildrose Alliance Party proposes incentives for our newly minted medical professionals to remain in Alberta. We also suggest the exploration of more innovative funding approaches. As part of our universal health care plan, we would implement a pilot program in one of the smaller health regions that would be modeled after "funding follow the patient" rather than the per capita funding currently in place today. Healthcare providers would then be paid for the services they give to the customers.

Education is a priority for our party. Whereas pollution is a negative externality, education and research/innovation are positive externalities. But funding is only part of the equation. The other part is challenging our education system to be even better. We would implement a pilot project where funding follows the student. This would give parents a real choice in the schools to which they send their children.

Since we are the on the topic of externalities allow me to address research and innovation while I'm at it. I worked at the Alberta Research Council during grad school and I can't say that it struck me that the organization was accomplishing anything that the private sector could not. I'm of the conviction that the real focus should be on technology commercialization and that means developing the universities' industry liaison offices. It should also mean cross-talk between engineering and technology students and firms with business management students and firms. As someone whose U of Alberta MBA has "Specialization in Technology Commercialization" stamped on it, I think this is an area where I can really help identify the bottlenecks.

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