"The elimination of that many [Registered Nurse] and [Registered Practical Nurse] FTEs, equivalent to over a million fewer hours of care, will mean more than 750 front-line Registered Nurses will be laid off", UNA said in a news release.
But the nurses' union says the impact will be more like 750 front-line positions cut.
Alberta Health Services says it will likely cut hundreds of nursing positions over three years in a move to make health care spending "more efficient and focused", the province's nurses' union says.
The nurses' union said it learned of the planned cuts Friday morning after the lead negotiator for AHS, Raelene Fitz, called a meeting "unexpectedly" to inform the union that it plans to eliminate 500 full-time-equivalent (FTE) nursing positions over a three-year period beginning April 1, 2020.
The two sides are heading into collective bargaining next year, and the health agency says in the letter that it wanted to give nurses a heads up on finances and staffing.
"The [Government of Alberta] will continue to guarantee employment security until March 30, 2020, for permanent bargaining unit employees using attrition, vacancy management and redeployment to meet employer needs", states a Thursday letter to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees from Alberta Public Service Commissioner Tim Grant. Despite spending far more per capita on services than other large provinces, our outcomes are no better and often worse.
"In light of the promises made by the government not to touch front-line health care workers, we will be asking for an immediate emergency meeting with Health Minister Tyler Shandro", UNA President Heather Smith said. These could include changes to staffing levels, aligning resources to areas where need is greater, as well as finding alternative ways to deliver services that would keep jobs in the Alberta economy.
"Jason Kenney repeatedly claimed that he was going to protect front-line services", Notley said. "Premier Kenney is breaking yet another promise to Albertans", said Shepherd.
Notley, however, said she is "very, very anxious for Albertans of all walks of life because this is going to seriously destabilize the quality of health care that Albertans across this province need to rely on".
Premier Jason Kenney is away but Finance Minister Travis Toews released a statement about collective bargaining. He does not have a mandate to do this.
Alberta could lose more than 750 front-line nurses under a "massive downsizing" at Alberta Health Services (AHS), says the United Nurses of Alberta.
A third-party review of AHS operations is to be completed by year's end.
"This government spent $4.7 billion on a no-jobs corporate handout, and now Albertans have to pay for it with deep cuts to the healthcare services they rely on".
He said that AHS is also considering closing acute care beds.
Notley said that suggests significant structural upheaval is coming to health under Kenney.