UCP leadership race: Smith slammed for comments about placing patients in hotels

Alberta New Democrats took aim at UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith on Monday afternoon, calling her a ‘favorite’ in this race and calling her ‘savage’ and ‘absurd “the recent statements she has made about how to increase health care capacity.

During a town hall on Facebook Live on August 12, the former Wildrose leader was asked how she would avoid “lockdowns” if “hospitals in Alberta start to be overrun” by another wave of COVID- 19.

Smith said the province needs to find a way to free up acute care beds occupied by seniors destined for long-term care.

“That’s about 60% of the beds that are occupied by people awaiting long-term placement,” Smith said.

“And I have to understand that there has to be a more comfortable place for them. I thought maybe a hotel might be a better environment.”

Smith went on to respond by stating that there is excess capacity in some continuing care facilities that could also be used by seniors in hospital beds.

NDP health critic David Shepherd focused his criticism of Smith on his hotel suggestion during an afternoon press conference outside a hotel in the west of ‘Edmonton.

“Long-term care beds require a registered nurse to be available 24 hours a day with all the equipment and supplies that might be needed to help someone with significant medical issues,” Shepherd said.

“The idea that a purpose-built medical care facility is interchangeable with a hotel is absurd. It’s not a solution… Hotel and motel staff are not healthcare workers.”

Shepherd said Smith was the most likely UCP candidate to become the next prime minister, and he accused her of having a history of promoting “pay-as-you-go health care”.

Instead of hotels, the MP for Edmonton-City Center said the government should improve the system by creating more long-term care spaces in Alberta.

CTV News Edmonton has reached out to Danielle Smith’s campaign for comment on this story.

Meanwhile, the government on Monday announced $11.3 million in additional funding for palliative and end-of-life care initiatives.

Shepherd applauded the announcement, but said the UCP needed to do more to address the “health care crisis” in Alberta.

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