For immediate release: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
United Nurses of Alberta sees nothing in the breakup of Alberta Health Services and the restructuring of the administration of public health care announced this morning by the provincial government that will address the principal crisis that concerns most nurses – chronic understaffing and overwork caused by the shortage of nurses.
While UNA has long acknowledged genuine deficiencies in the management of health care services by AHS, there is nothing in today’s announcement that will address that problem, said Heather Smith, President of UNA, which represents more than 30,000 Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses, the majority of them employed by AHS.
“The wrong diagnosis always creates the wrong treatment,” Smith said. “The government has diagnosed the problem in Alberta’s health care system as being the structure of AHS. A far more serious problem is the shortage of nurses and other medical professionals, as well as beds and capacity. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater!"
“The treatment announced by the government today is going to make the problem worse,” she predicted. “It seems likely the chaos in the health care system will be a roadblock to the retention and recruitment of nurses,” Smith said.
She asked: “Who is going to move to Alberta to work in health care when they don’t even know what agency or organization they will be working for?”
The most important points made by UNA’s leaders to Minister Adriana LaGrange and Premier Danielle Smith in recent conversations, including one formal meeting with the health minister, was “please don’t do anything to destabilize AHS,” she concluded. “That is exactly what they have done.”
In the meantime, UNA has many unanswered questions about how this reorganization will impact members and their jobs. “We will aggressively seek answers to these questions and communicate them to our members,” Smith said.