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Alberta Health Services has announced their intention to cut 9,700 full time healthcare workers from the government payroll on Tuesday, CTV News has reported.
The cuts come at a time when Alberta is facing a sluggish economy and a skyrocketing deficit. The cuts are part of the government's effort to save $600 million annually.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro has stated that while the government is cutting these jobs, they are not disappearing and will largely be outsourced to the private sector while others are lost by attrition. "For most cases, it's this is a matter of workers just changing their employer from AHS to the (private) provider," Shandro said.
The cuts will also not be affecting frontline healthcare workers, but instead are designed to outsource laboratory, housekeeping, food service, and laundry jobs.
Shandro stated that many of these jobs are already performed by the private sector, claiming "68 percent of laundry services in Alberta and, if we look at in the north of the province, 70 percent of community lab services are currently delivered by the private sector, under contract."
While the changes are expected to begin coming into effect next spring, changes to laboratory work will not come into effect until the government's current contract with Dynalife, which provides private laboratory testing for Alberta, expires in February 2022.
The policy differs greatly from previous plans by the previous NDP government of Alberta. In 2016 it was reported that the Albertan government would buy out Dynalife upon the expiration of their contract for $50 million.
The new government of Jason Kenney, however, sought to implement cost-cutting measures in healthcare services, and commissioned independent contractors Ernst and Young to perform a comprehensive review of the AHS.
The Ernst and Young report, released in February, recommended cutting 16,000 jobs, but the Albertan government has scaled back such changes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.