Alberta needs a health care workforce plan, not threats of layoffs

Alberta needs a health care workforce plan, not threats of layoffs

EDMONTON — Earlier this week, the United Nurses of Alberta received deeply concerning letters from their employers warning about the potential for position reductions and contracting out in 2024. These letters were sent in the lead up as provincial bargaining is set to begin with nurses, and is similar to a tactic used in 2019 before that round of bargaining.

“Imagine being in a health care staffing crisis and thinking threatening to layoff nurses or contract out their work is a good bargaining strategy,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Shame on our provincial government. Going to war with nurses and health care workers will simply drive more of them out of the system and out of Alberta.”

Albertans are increasingly worried about access to the health care they need, as a widespread short staffing crisis continues to impact every part of our health care system. Hundreds of thousands of people in this province still don’t have a family doctor, and dozens of facilities across the province are still facing long wait times and repeated temporary closures. In response to these challenges, Friends of Medicare has long been calling on the provincial government to get serious about workforce planning in health care.

“We desperately need our government to be laser-focused on the frontline health care workforce. That means doing workforce planning, mapping it out and developing a strategy to ensure that our health care system and the people who keep it going have all the resources to provide the care that patients in this province need and deserve,” said Gallaway. “With so many health care workers openly contemplating leaving the system or the province, the government should be prioritizing a plan to retain those already working here and to recruit the workers we urgently need.”

Instead the UCP government is creating uncertainty for health care workers as they push forward a drastic re-structuring plan for health care and further privatization schemes as their so-called solutions to our health care woes.

“Blow it up, create chaos and sell pieces off — that has been the age-old privatization strategy that the UCP government has been relying on since being elected. With this government’s priorities clear, it’s more important than ever for Albertans to speak up in support of nurses and all frontline health care workers as the fight to protect and improve our public health care for all,” concluded Gallaway.


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