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'We will pay for this': Calgary professor speaks out on AHS review

Last Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 8:51 am MDT

A shot outside Foothills Hospital in Calgary on Feb 5, 2020 (PHOTO: Saif Kaisar, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Concerns continue to rise over whether some surgeries will soon be de-funded in Alberta.

It comes after the results of an independent audit of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and its spending practices.

The report listed several surgeries of “low clinical value” such as hernias, carpal tunnel and tubal ligation.

RELATED: Should certain surgeries in Alberta be publicly funded?

That has upset many in Alberta including Rebecca Sullivan from the University of Calgary’s Women’s Studies Program.

“I think this really speaks to why all governments at all levels when developing new policies, new regulations, new legislation need to undertake an interceptional gender mainstreaming audit of their decision.”

Sullivan said she doesn’t understand why some female-specific surgeries such as tubal ligation and breast reduction are on the report.

She also lashed out at a tweet Health Minister Tyler Shandro put out saying “It’s not about *removing* coverage, it’s about *improving* quality by avoiding inappropriate procedures.”

“This idea that women taking control of their reproductive and sexual health of their bodies is inappropriate, that just says everything. What on earth is inappropriate about making a decision about your reproductive capacity, about your ability to be a parent about your chronic pain.”

She adds women in houses with lower incomes are more likely to get tubal ligation than men to get vasectomies, which was not one of the procedures on the report.

While Sullivan can only speak to gender-specific surgeries, she adds the desire to cut healthcare costs will affect the province as a whole.

“We can’t have just one factor going into any kind of policy decision. An aging population, a frailer population, a sicker population, a population that requires more sick leave, more disability leave, shorter work careers. We will pay for this.”

Shandro said the government’s goal is to reduce the listed procedures, not remove them.

The AHS audit called for the department to make nearly 60 changes in an effort to save $1.9 billion annually.