Posted on Jul 12, 2021
SHANDRO OWES ALBERTANS ACTION PLAN ON RURAL HEALTH CRISIS
EDMONTON – As critical bed shortages escalate across Alberta, the NDP is calling on Health Minister Tyler Shandro to address the seriousness of the situation and present an action plan.
Over the past several weeks, numerous healthcare facilities in Alberta have closed a portion of their beds due to a critical shortage of frontline healthcare workers. In one case, an entire continuing care facility has been forced to close, displacing 18 seniors, because there are insufficient staff to operate safely.
These critical staffing shortages are causing bed closures in Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, Rocky Mountain House, St. Paul, Elk Point, Edson, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright, Rimbey, Lacombe, Galahad, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.
“By my count, 99 beds have been closed because of a critical staffing shortage,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd. “Anecdotally, I have heard of many other facilities that are stretched to the breaking point. These bed closures are in addition to the intermittent closures of emergency rooms, and cancelled surgeries in rural hospitals we have seen over the past weeks.”
When asked about the closures last month, Shandro falsely claimed that summer vacations were to blame.
“What an incredibly disrespectful thing to say about our friends, family and neighbors who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to save lives and protect our health during a global pandemic,” said Shepherd.
“We need real answers and so today I have written to Tyler Shandro and asked him four questions: Why are these critical staff shortages occurring? What other Alberta communities are at risk of bed closures? What is his action plan to re-open these beds? And what steps is he taking to support frontline healthcare workers to recover and return to good health after all they endured in the course of the pandemic?”
The bed closures and staff shortages come amidst the UCP’s threats to slash the wages of nurses by three per cent, even as they continue to play a key role in helping Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic.