Alberta Health Services to cut 9,700 jobs

CALGARY — The Alberta government plans to cut the equivalent of 9,700 full time health service jobs in an effort to save $600 million annually.

As many of the employees affected are part-time workers, the actual number of layoffs could rise.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the cuts will not affect front-line medical staff including nurses and doctors. 

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Shandro said the majority of jobs lost will come from outsourcing jobs in laboratories, housekeeping, food services, and laundry. Shandro estimates approximately 800 jobs will disappear due to attrition.

Another 4,000 housekeeping jobs, 3,000 food service jobs, 2,000 laboratory jobs, 400 laundry jobs and at least 100 management jobs are also expected to be axed in the proposed cuts.

“68 per cent of laundry services in Alberta and, if we look at in the north of the province, 70 per cent of community lab services are currently delivered by the private sector, under contract,” said Shandro. “AHS has also been given permission to develop business cases for contracting out, environmental services like housekeeping in 2022 and food preparation for consideration in 2023.”

Sandro claims most workers will not actually lose their jobs in the transition to privatization.

“Contracting out isn’t a reduction in employment,” explained Shandro. “For most cases, it’s this is a matter of workers just changing their employer from AHS to the (private) provider.”

Shandro says changes in the workforce could start next spring, but changes to the labs may not come into effect until February 2022, when a contract with (current provider)  Dynalife ends.

Contracting out laundry services could begin as early as next April.

The Ernst and Young report had recommended even deeper cuts, amounting to 16,000 lost jobs.  

Shandro said the government scaled back the cuts because of the current pandemic response. He did not say the additional cuts have been shelved, only that they are being delayed.

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