Posted on Mar 11, 2020

HEALTH LAYOFFS MUST BE HALTED AS ALBERTA CONFRONTS CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: OFFICIAL OPPOSITION

LETHBRIDGE - The Alberta NDP Official Opposition is pressing on Jason Kenney and the UCP to halt mass layoffs and structural changes in Alberta hospitals as the province confronts the coronavirus pandemic.

Last November, Alberta Health Services stated publicly it would cut 750 Registered Nurse positions, starting April 1, 2020. The UCP has also committed to plans to contract out lab and food services, hospital maintenance and other operational tasks and has discussed a plan to close some acute care beds. The Government also intends to ram through compensation changes for doctors, also effective April 1, and many frontline physicians have closed, reduced their hours, or threatened to close their clinics — some have even made plans to leave the province altogether.

“We cannot have the firing of nurses. In fact, we should be hiring more nurses immediately before the coronavirus spreads significantly,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “We cannot force conditions that would see doctors leave or cause uncertainty with lab testing.

“We know that there will be significant pressure for additional beds across the province. So rather than moving to close acute care beds, as the government stated it would do in November, we should be moving to invest more money to add additional beds.

“People certainly need to take measures to avoid becoming infected with coronavirus, but should they become infected and develop serious symptoms they need certainty that there will be a bed in a hospital and frontline care workers to help them.”

NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips and Health Critic David Shepherd raised concerns about health care capacity Wednesday in a letter to Minister of Finance Travis Toews and Minister of Health Tyler Shandro.