By Amy Badry
Rick Orman was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1986 to 1993. During that time he was minister of career development and employment, labour and energy. In 1992, he ran in the provincial leadership campaign and came third.
When asked what he thought was the number one issue facing young Albertans, Orman said healthcare.
“It is my fi rst for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we receive about $35 billion a year in revenue in the province and 42 per cent of that goes to healthcare,” said Orman. “So the reason why it is important from a financial view is that if healthcare grows at six per cent a year and the economy grows at three per cent, we have an unsustainable model.”
He is concerned that if healthcare spending continues to grow, other areas will “get squeezed out,” including education and municipal infrastructure.
“That is my big concern. We have to make sure the money is spent effi ciently and there is no abuse in that system.”
Orman said abuse of the healthcare system comes from both providers and consumers.
“I don’t think people respect the fact that it is tax payers’ dollars. I can’t tell you how many times people say to me, ‘healthcare is free.’”
To address this situation he suggested putting photos on healthcare cards as well as instituting an “early warning system” for doctors’ billing to ensure they are not overcharging.
Orman also stated that his second priority is education.
“I was sitting around with the student council at the University of Lethbridge and they brought up the difficulty of repaying student loans,” said Orman. “That is where I came up with a policy, that when students graduate they will be able to pay off their student loans with their pre-tax income as opposed to their post tax income. So before they pay their taxes, they will be able to subtract a tax credit from their