Alberta’s Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, confirmed details surrounding layoffs for Alberta Health Services at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Shandro spoke about a performance review of the province’s health care system that had been completed by Ernst and Young LLP, on the orders of the Province of Alberta. The review was released in February with initiatives that will be moving forward, according to the government, as of October 13.
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Included in the green-lit initiatives are cuts to nearly 10,000 jobs, the majority coming from outsourcing support services, including laundry and community labs.
A total of 9,700 of these cut jobs will come from transitioning to the private sector. Outsourcing will be considered for environmental and food services in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
The performance review was directed as part of the Province of Alberta’s plans to end the provincial budget by 2022. It is noted in the review that while funding will not be reduced for AHS over the coming years, the organization needs to find efficiencies in its budget to accommodate the expected 1.5% year over year growth.
Alberta’s healthcare, according to the report, accounts for 43% of the province’s public spend, which is higher than Ontario, Quebec, and BC on a per capita basis.
“When fully implemented, contracting out will result in 9,700 positions being transferred to private sector delivery,” Shandro said at the press conference.
“Contracting out these services allows AHS to get the best value from private partners and focus on patient care, and meeting community healthcare needs.”
A Tuesday release from the Province of Alberta also noted that 100 management positions would be cut alongside a full review of senior AHS executives.
These changes are expected to collectively save upwards of $600 million per year.
The release also noted that there would be no job losses for nurses or other front-line clinical staff during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has changed everything. As a result, AHS has been directed to proceed carefully, putting patient care above all else,” said Shandro in the release.
“As a first step, AHS has been directed to eliminate a minimum of 100 management positions and to proceed with previously announced contracting work. This approach will allow us to strike the right balance between supporting the COVID-19 response and Alberta’s challenging fiscal situation.”
Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, called the cuts unspeakable in an October 13 release.
“The UCP is moving ahead with the unspeakable. They are actually cutting healthcare during a global pandemic,” said McGowan in the release. “This bears repeating again and again. The UCP is cutting Alberta healthcare during a global health pandemic.”
ALF noted that the majority of workers in the proposed services, such as housekeeping, food and laundry, and lab services, are predominantly women and immigrants, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“Lab services have been incredibly important in the fight against COVID-19 in Alberta. It makes absolutely no sense to outsource 2,000 jobs from lab services during a global pandemic and claim it will have no impact on Albertan’s healthcare.”
NDP leader Rachel Notley criticized the cuts during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Jason Kenney thinks the Albertans who cleaned rooms, washed sheets and served food to patients in hospital, during a pandemic, are expendable in order to pay for his $4.7-billion corporate handout. These are frontline workers and they deserve better from their government.#ableg
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) October 13, 2020
“Jason Kenney believes that the Albertans who are cleaning rooms, washing bedding, and preparing food during a pandemic are somehow expendable in order to pay for his $4.7 billion corporate handout,” Notley said.
“These Albertans are front line workers. They are heroes. Ask anyone who has ever had a loved one in hospital and they will tell you that the person who cleans up the vomit on the floor is a front line worker. So let us be very clear; Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro are firing front line workers in the middle of a pandemic.”
She noted that contracting out the work would mean fewer people doing the work for less pay.
The job cuts are among 57 recommendations and 72 savings opportunities identified in the AHS performance review.