The Council of Canadians’ Red Deer and area chapter will host a community conversation on health care this Tuesday.

The event will be held at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Friends of Medicare executive director Chris Gallaway as a guest speaker.

Last week, Alberta Infrastructure held a public information session regarding the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project. Gallaway said he anticipates the project will be a major talking point during Tuesday’s event.

“The hospital is top of mind, of course,” Gallaway said.

“We know a lot of of folks who were at the public information session who will be coming to the Council of Canadians event and didn’t feel like they got a lot of answers they were looking for.”

Friends of Medicare previously issued a statement criticizing the provincial government’s decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) delivery model for part of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre expansion project. Additionally, Gallaway said he felt there’s a lack of a specific timeline for the expansion project.

“There’s money in the budget, which was nice to see. But we’ve seen money in the budget for other infrastructure projects that the UCP have eventually cancelled, like the South Edmonton Hospital,” said Gallaway.

“It feels like it’s a case of them saying, ‘Vote for us again in three years and you’ll get a hospital.’ We don’t think that’s good enough. Red Deer’s been waiting a long time and they need clarity on what’s happening and when.”

Gallaway anticipated Pharmacare will be another major discussion at the community conversation.

“We’ll also look at health care more broadly in terms of what’s happening with staffing, access, infrastructure and all of those pieces,” he said.

“Folks are very concerned about access and they want to talk about solutions to what’s happening in the healthcare system. They’re very worried right now.

“We’re going to answer questions and have a conversation about Red Deer specifically. There are other issues in Red Deer, like harm reduction and the drug-poisoning crisis, and staffing (issues) and closures in Central Alberta.”

The Council of Canadians is described as a national grassroots organization working towards a greater society for all people. Friends with Medicare is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of seniors’ organizations, labour organizations, cultural, faith and community groups, and physicians and patients.

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