Posted on Feb 3, 2020

Wage cuts, Americanization, rural job losses dominate health review

A review of Alberta Health Services released today by UCP Health Minister Tyler Shandro lays the groundwork for wage cuts, job losses, Americanization and cuts to rural services.

“Albertans expect their healthcare dollars to be carefully and respectfully managed,” said David Shepherd, NDP Official Opposition Critic for Health. “But, let’s be clear, there would be no need to look at cuts, Americanization, and lay-offs if this government had not chosen to hand over $4.7 billion to big corporations leaving less money for health services that Albertans rely on.”

The Ernst and Young report is light on details, with an AHS implementation plan to follow later this year. Shandro was at pains today to distance himself from any job losses and wage cuts that this implementation plan may contain.  

“This review presumes the outcome of collective bargaining and physician agreement negotiations that are still underway,” said Shepherd. “It’s clear that this government plans to find savings by laying off Alberta healthcare professionals or cutting their pay, particularly in rural areas. This will hurt patient care, and Minister Shandro must accept responsibility for that.”

Shandro refused to rule out “reconfiguration” of rural sites, including 36 facilities described by the report as not meeting criteria for clinical viability. This could include partial closure or loss of services. The report also indicates the potential to consolidate or close six emergency departments in small and medium community facilities, a decision that would have dramatic consequences for those communities.

The report also called for closure or consolidation of vital air ambulance bases in rural areas, and privatization of long-term care facilities.

Minister Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney have already broken their promise to Albertans when it comes to protecting public healthcare. If implemented, there are recommendations in this report that bring in American-style healthcare at the expense of everyday Albertans.