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By United Nurses of Alberta November 29, 2019 11:30

“Hundreds of front-line Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses will lose their jobs in massive downsizing planned by Alberta Health Services, the public health care agency’s lead negotiator informed United Nurses of Alberta this morning.

In a meeting with UNA’s senior leadership called unexpectedly by AHS yesterday, Lead Negotiator Raelene Fitz said the plans to eliminate an “estimated” 500 full-time equivalent RN jobs over the next three years were being disclosed now in advance of bargaining for UNA’s 2020 Provincial Collective Agreement so that the union would have time to absorb the information and respond accordingly.

The elimination of that many RN and RPN FTEs, equivalent to over a million fewer hours of care, will mean more than 750 front-line Registered Nurses will be laid off, UNA President Heather Smith said immediately after the meeting.

“From the tone of what we were told, we believe this is only the first wave of layoffs affecting RNs represented by UNA,” Smith said. AHS officials were also scheduled to meet bargaining representatives from other health care unions today.

“There are also clear indications that AHS plans to shift many of the costs of health care onto Albertans who require treatment,” Smith said.

“Premier Jason Kenney and other members of the United Conservative Party promised repeatedly during last spring’s election campaigns that the cuts they planned would not touch front-line health care workers,” she said. “Participants at tomorrow’s UCP meeting in Calgary might want to ask the premier about why AHS is moving ahead with plans to break his promise and lay off front-line nurses.”

“We do not believe Albertans will support this plan, and they should tell the premier so,” Smith said.

“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,” Smith said.

Statements by Fitz during this morning’s meeting also indicated AHS is considering significant privatization of public health care services.

“AHS will continue to consider all options available to meet our organizational needs including changes to staff mix, service design including changes and repurposing of sites, relocating services, reducing or ceasing the provision of services,” Fitz said in a letter addressed to UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan.

The letter also said AHS is considering “reconfiguring services provided at some smaller sites.””

A copy of the letter is included with this news release –> AHS Letter to David Harrigan