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Updated November 27, 2012

Please remember, our existence depends on you.  You can support the Alberta Consumers' Association by becoming a member, making a donation, or subscribing to our newsletter. (Membership/Donor Form)

Public Health Care


1999 Submission to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Bill 37 (on the Alberta Government's proposed Private Surgical Policy) in PDF (31 PAGES)

2003 Presentation and Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Health Aspects of Prescription Drugs   (slow to load)

2005 Letter to the federal Minister of Health related to manufacturers' withdrawal of common insulins and rising prices and impact on Canadians with diabetes

 2008 Letter to The Honourable George Abbott. Minister of Health, British Columbia regarding BC Pharmaceutical Task Force Recommendations

2010 Invited Submission to Minister's Advisory Committee on Health (MACH) on Legislative Reform and Alberta Health Act Initiative

Consumer Rights in Relation to Health Care (Consumers' Association of Canada 1989)

Alberta Health Care Protection Act

For the story of some of the forces behind the Alberta Health Care Protection Act, the recommendations of the Premier's Advisory Council on Health Care, and current debate on implications of increasing reliance on private business and out-of-pocket charges (and ultimately private health insurance) to fund health care, the following  sources of information about Public Health Care are indispensable.  You can form your own opinion about the merits of public health care and the risks created by Alberta's Health Care Protection Act and regulations.  The Alberta Consumers' Association made recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the health care system and increase the accountability of the province, regional health authorities, private health service providers, and doctors.  In addition, we made suggestions to subject private health service providers to the competition law and vendors of enhanced and non insured services to the Alberta Fair Trading act.   (ALERT)

Canary in the Mine Shaft

"The Consumer Experience with Cataract Surgery and Private Clinics in Alberta; Canada's Canary in the Mine Shaft"  This report released by the Alberta Consumers' Association describes how the Alberta model of cataract delivery emerged, and how it has evolved into a well entrenched two-tiered model of publicly insured care. It also describes the changing character of "private" health care in Alberta and how taxpayer dollars are increasingly used to subsidize commercial activities and new investor-driven health care corporations - to the detriment of the public and the public plan. Contrary to commonly held beliefs and claims made by suppliers, the evidence in the report reveals that the growth of private cataract surgery clinics in Alberta has: "Remarkably, instead of being the solution to rising costs, longer waits and less than ideal patient care, increased reliance on private business and the introduction of new sources of private payment for suppliers has been the cause of many of these problems", said Wendy Armstrong, the author of the report.

The Press Release and the Executive Summary are posted on this site and Copies of the report "The Consumer Experience with Cataract Surgery and Private Clinics in Alberta; Canada's Canary in the Mine Shaft" by Wendy Armstrong are available from:

The Consumers' Association of Canada (Alberta)
Box 11171, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3K4
Telephone: (780) 426-3270
Fax: (780) 425-9578
Fax:  (780) 425-9578

Price: $15 for individuals and $25 dollars for organization/business (postage paid)
Pages may be reproduced (but not sold) for public interest purposes by non-profit organizations and individual citizens as long as credit is given to the source.

Eldercare - On the Auction Block

Since the 1990s, dramatic changes to Alberta's long term care sector have unfolded with little media notice. Confusing jargon, mixed messages, lack of data, and widespread differences among the province's 17 regional health authorities have disguised much of the restructuring. Yet the changes have not gone unnoticed by families. Today, more and more adult children and elderly spouses are finding themselves trapped in the bewildering grip of Alberta's heavily privatized LTC environment. What they find is rarely what they expect - or need.

In 2002 the Alberta Chapter of the Consumers' Association of Canada decided to investigate these changes. Our research found that both residential and in-home care for the elderly have become costly and inaccessible arenas for many people. Quality is often grim, staffing levels are marginal. The promise of innovative models of care has been largely eclipsed by limited access and decreasing coverage of the costs associated with care. Many families now face an untenable choice: either give up a salary to care for a loved one at home, or spend savings and assets to purchase private services. Indeed, so much of the burden and cost of care has been offloaded to families that the Long Term Care Association of Alberta is quietly advising people to purchase private LTC insurance to protect their income and assets.

If this sounds like American-style health care, it is. And just as the administrative costs of the U.S. system are much more expensive than Canada's, Alberta is now spending more money managing an increasingly fragmented LTC sector, leaving less money for actual care. Between 1997/1998 and 1999/2000, the actual money spent on administration by regional health authorities increased by 15.2 percent - more than for any other identified category except research and education.

The full report and press releases are available here.


Laser Eye Surgery (LASIK)

Laser surgery (LASIK) has become a popular choice to correct vision problems. It is widely promoted as a "cure" and a safe, convenient alternative to glasses.  However, LASIK is not always a cure and is not always safe.  For many individuals it is a poor choice.  Before agreeing to LASIK surgery please visit the U. S. Food and Drug Administration site. FDA: LASIK Eye Surgery  The site identifies the risks involved, offers advice on choosing a doctor, and provides a pre-surgery check list.  You can't give informed consent without a visit.

CAC Alberta is monitoring the outcomes of LASIK surgery.  If you have had problems with this surgery please email us at  You will be contacted for a confidential interview.  (ALERT)

Canadian Warnings


Health Canada provides warnings about food, drugs, and consumer products.

Products, Recalls, and Fraud

Consumer Connection: Office of Consumer Affairs-Industry Canada recalls and fraud alert page.

CBC Market Place ( a consumer affairs show.  This page contains current and ongoing warnings about products and fraud. (ALERT)

United States Warnings

Health is a gateway website that provides links to selected government food safety-related information.  This web site is part of the National Food Safety Information Network. It is maintained by FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.


The Better Business Bureau serves the US and Canada from this site.  The internet has given them a new source of revenue, charging for companies to join their Reliability Seal Program Privacy Seal Program.  However, if a company hasn't paid you may find a warning here.  Just kidding, I'm sure they are unbiased.

Internet Fraud Watch ( is a project of the National Consumers League.

The Federal Trade Commission (, Bureau of Consumer Protection's mandate is to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices. (ALERT)

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