02/24/2014 01:09 EST | Updated 04/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Alberta NDP says $1B in extra cash from Ottawa should go back into public care

EDMONTON - Alberta's NDP says an extra $1 billion coming this year in federal health transfers is a rare opportunity to fix what acutely ails the system.

NDP Leader Brian Mason and health critic Dave Eggen say the money could fund 1,500 new long-term care beds and eliminate out-of-pocket prescription charges for seniors and those with low incomes.

The New Democrats say another idea would be to fund more university spaces to train doctors and nurses and provide better mental-health care.

Eggen says the money could also allow the province to move away from privatizing lab services.

Mason says voters will ultimately decide if the $1 billion was well spent.