Nearly 6,000 Alberta public-sector jobs could be eliminated as the UCP government tries to cut costs and find efficiencies, the provincial government signalled to Alberta’s largest union in letters released late Friday afternoon.
The union received the letters in advance of bargaining for 2020 collective agreements. The letters are not formal notices of layoffs, but as required under the collective bargaining process, outline cuts the provincial government might make.
The potential cuts would impact 2,500 Government of Alberta positions across several ministries, as well as the following positions at Alberta Health Services:
- 1,000 to 2,000 housekeepers;
- 350 administrative support and medical transcription employees;
- 250 general support staff, such as maintenance employees;
- 235 laundry and linen operations staff;
- 200 auxiliary nursing employees, such as licensed practical nurses and health-care aides;
- 200 home care services staff;
- 165 foodservice employees.
But the letter continues that as of April 1 of next year, the government “will use all options available under the collective agreement to ensure government is on track to implement key priorities and support the government’s path to balance by 2020-23.”
Grant said several government cost-cutting initiatives could impact “approximately 2,500 positions” through to the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“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.
The letter does not go into much detail about what those initiatives are, but several government ministries are specifically mentioned: Health, Service Alberta, Community and Social Services, Agriculture and Forestry, Seniors and Housing, and Transportation.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the potential cuts “cruel and heartless,” and said they represent a betrayal of what Premier Jason Kenney promised during his election campaign this spring.
“Jason Kenney repeatedly claimed that he was going to protect front-line services,” Notley said. “He does not have a mandate for this because this is the exact opposite of what he told Albertans he would do.”
AUPE president Guy Smith was not available for an interview Friday evening.
In a statement earlier Friday about the collective bargaining process, Finance Minister Travis Toews said the status quo “is not a sustainable option” and said Alberta spends more per capita on services than other large provinces, with often worse results.
“We were also clear about the need for an ongoing review of government programs to ensure they are efficient and effective, and that this could result in changes to the public service,” he said.
By The CBC