AHS to cut 500 positions in three years: Nurses' union

Henrietta Strickland
December 2, 2019

But the nurses' union says the impact will be more like 750 front-line positions cut.

The letter does not go into much detail about what those initiatives are, but several government ministries are specifically mentioned: Health, Service Alberta, Community and Social Services, Agriculture and Forestry, Seniors and Housing, and Transportation. It means longer wait lists. It means less care. "It likely means more privatization", Harrigan said Friday after learning of the decision in a meeting with the health agency.

The promise was not to cut front line services, and the further promise, the goal of this government is jobs, jobs, jobs, and pipelines...but they were talking about creating jobs, not laying people off, not laying off 750 RN's. "He does not have a mandate for this because this is the exact opposite of what he told Albertans he would do".

In the letter, AHS said jobs will be eliminated through attrition until the end of March, after which it will use "all options" it has under the collective bargaining agreement.

Holliday said contracting out AHS housekeeper positions would affect between 1,000 and 2,000 full-time equivalent positions.

"In light of the promises made by the government not to touch front-line health care workers, we will be asking for an immediate emergency meeting with Health Minister Tyler Shandro", UNA President Heather Smith said.

"They're going to war with front-line health-care workers in the province of Alberta instead of providing them with support and the resources they need to address the growing pressures and workload", he said.

But he added a government-commissioned report on Alberta's finances found that the province is paying more per capita than other jurisdictions on health with comparatively substandard results.

He said the recent Alberta budget increased the budget for health care by $150 million, "so there's actually no overall reductions in the AHS budget".

"We need to find a better way of delivering those services, and part of that is finding efficiencies".

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Kenney is breaking a campaign promise to keep front-line services whole.

"He lied", Notley said in an interview from Calgary.

Premier Jason Kenney is away but Finance Minister Travis Toews released a statement about collective bargaining.

It is a one per cent increase from the previous budget and represents 43 per cent of total government operational spending.

"This government spent $4.7 billion on a no-jobs corporate handout, and now Albertans have to pay for it with deep cuts to the healthcare services they rely on".

The move comes as consulting firm Ernst & Young reviews AHS operations, which is expected to be completed sometime in December.

A Friday letter to the union from Dennis Holliday, the head of negotiations and labour relations for Alberta Health Services (AHS), details thousands of positions at the health authority that could be at risk.

The union said they were informed of the job losses Friday morning through AHS lead negotiator Raelene Fitz.

Notley said that suggests significant structural upheaval is coming to health under Kenney.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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