Posted on Mar 9, 2021


EDMONTON - After more than a year of putting themselves and their families at risk during a deadly pandemic, thousands of Alberta’s frontline healthcare heroes are still facing layoffs from Premier Jason Kenney.

During today’s debate on the health budget, NDP Health Critic David Shepherd pressed Health Minister Tyler Shandro to commit to scrapping his pre-pandemic plan for wholesale layoffs of frontline workers, and Shandro refused. 

“Today was an opportunity for Minister Shandro to admit his mistake and reverse his threat to lay off thousands of healthcare workers,” Shepherd said. “Instead, the UCP are doubling down on attacking the very heroes that have been putting their lives and their families lives at risk to serve Alberta.”

Alberta Health Services wrote to the nurses union in late 2019, just before the pandemic began, informing them of the potential layoff of up to 750 full-time nursing positions. These layoffs were paused through the pandemic.   

In October 2020, the UCP also announced that through they would contract out housekeeping, food services, and laundry services through a “reconfiguring” of rural emergency departments.The announcement prompted healthcare workers to walk off the job across the province just days later, leading to a vast bureaucratic exercise in AHS to interview and reprimand hundreds of people. 

Elly O’Greyslik, a Registered Nurse working in Edmonton and post-secondary educator, questioned if the UCP continues with their plan to cut jobs once the pandemic is over, will there be any jobs for her students in Alberta and what that will do to the province’s health care system.

“In my opinion, we already don’t have enough positions. Our healthcare system can’t stand to lose any staff. People are already exhausted,” said O’Greyslik. “If they axe any positions or stop filling vacancies, I worry that the pressure within the system to stick to the budget will cause our units to implode and our patients and staff to suffer.”

“Not long ago, Albertans were coming out onto their porches and balconies to applaud these Alberta heroes,” said Shepherd. “I am calling on Tyler Shandro to commit to not laying off one single health care worker who has been keeping Albertans safe during the pandemic.”