UCP Leader Jason Kenney made a stop in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. He announced new policies and then met with supporters later in the afternoon. (Red Deer Express)

Alberta UCP leader promises more beds, programs for opioid drug users

The opioid plan is part of a broader package of health reforms promised by Jason Kenney

The leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives says that, if elected, they would open more beds and expand treatment programs to help people battling drug and opioid addictions.

Jason Kenney says a UCP government would not approve new supervised drug consumption sites without extensive consultations with affected communities.

He also says those sites would ideally be accompanied by treatment services.

Kenney says it’s critical to balance help for users with safe neighbourhoods free of discarded needles and to avoid an increase in drug-related crime.

The opioid plan is part of a broader package of health reforms promised by Kenney in the campaign for the April 16 election.

He is promising that he would review health spending to find $200 million in administrative savings.

He says wait times for surgeries under the NDP are falling behind, and he would explore ways to have more day procedures done by private clinics under the public system to improve service and save money.

Such a system has been successful in Saskatchewan, he says.

“We will seek to replicate the phenomenal success of the Saskatchewan surgical initiative to meet our goal of a four-month maximum wait time for surgery,” Kenney told a news conference Thursday.

Rachel Notley’s New Democrats are running on a promise not to expand private care within the public system, because that can lead to queue-jumping and even higher costs.

The NDP has promised to keep health-care funding sufficient for a growing population and says Kenney’s refusal to match that promise means hardships and delays for patients.

The Canadian Press

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