By Letter to the Editor on October 30, 2020.
An accounting firm hired by the Alberta government says that Alberta will save $600 million a year by cutting 11,000 jobs from Alberta Health Services. The cuts will come from contracting laundry, lab, housekeeping and food services, and the savings will be used to improve our health-care system. If the health-care services that are being cut are going to be contracted out and the money “saved” is being returned to AHS, where is the saving?
The answer is that the private sector will pay a lower wage. In order to pay lower wages, they will have to hire unskilled labourers. Or will the highly trained and professionally qualified civil servants happily line up for jobs for a lower wage? My guess is that they will probably seek jobs in another province, country or profession!
Minister Shandro says that no front-line staff will lose their jobs during the pandemic. But what is stopping the government (which is constitutionally responsible for the health system in Alberta) from declaring when that pandemic is over? Then what? Will the new untrained, unskilled workers be able to prepare the food and do the laundry efficiently and in such a manner that will not unnecessarily spread germs to the patients? Will they prepare one simple meal which then is fed to all patients? We know that some patients need a special diet. If the dieticians also get cut, who will be planning the special meals for the special patients?
And how about disinfecting and cleaning the rooms and equipment? We have already heard of cases where “contracted” workers have used the same cleaning cloth to wipe basins, counters and toilets! Is this how we are going to be “fiscally responsible” at the expense of good health? Hmm?
I have a partial solution to the deficit reduction: Scrap the “War Room,” thus saving a few million dollars or so annually. Then cancel the Houston office where a civil servant/friend has a budget of at least $250,000, saving more money.
All I can say is “Welcome to the Alberta Advantage”: No deficit. No job training required for low-paid jobs in the new, Alberta “efficient health-care system!” Is this our premier’s answer to creating new jobs for Albertans?