Health care workers, patients concerned over ‘harmful’ job cuts

EDMONTON — Nurses, patients and doctors will speak out about the Alberta government’s proposal to cut thousands of health care positions over the next several years.

More than a dozen health workers, doctors and nurses are expected to call on the province to reverse the cuts, saying they would affect patient care.

“In addition to news Friday that over 5,000 nurses will be fired, or see their positions contracted out to private providers, the UCP government is proposing changes that will decrease compensation for primary care physicians,” the Alberta NDP said in a news release.

One of the physicians speaking out, Dr. Lauren Eastman, said patients without comprehensive primary care will be forced to use higher-cost options like emergency rooms and hospital admissions.

Up to 7,400 jobs could be cut in the next four years, including 5,900 positions held by members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and 500 front-line nursing positions.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro has maintained that Alberta is still increasing health spending and the planned cuts are about repositioning the system.

The cuts followed a Mackinnon panel report that found Alberta is spending approximately $3.6 billion more per capita than other provinces and not receiving better health care outcomes.