AHS announces layoffs for Calgary COVID-19 health workers

The layoffs will affect HSAA, UNA, and AUPE staff at two COVID-19 testing centres.

Earlier today, I received a copy of a memo that Alberta Health Services sent to staff in Calgary announcing the layoffs for several health workers.

The memo indicates that the affected workers are those specifically working at two COVID-19 testing facilities: Bow Trail Assessment Centre and Macleod Trail South Walk-Up.

The Assessment Centre management team who sent the memo claim that they are “seeing a shift in demand for our resources and physical space from testing for COVID-19 immunization to providing COVID-19 immunization”.

Support independent journalism

It’s not clear where that demand shift is coming from: is it patient driving, AHS-leadership driven, government driven? Something else?

As part of the transition to immunization, AHS will be terminating multiple positions for health care workers who had been hired to help with the government’s pandemic response.

HSAA staff

The following Health Sciences Association of Alberta staff who were hired externally into AHS as urban community testers at the above locations will be laid off.

  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Public Health workers with vaccination expertise

These are specifically for temp positions. The management team claims they will provide casual opportunities for laid off staff, relative to their scope of practice.

UNA staff

United Nurses of Alberta assistant head nurses in temporary positions at the above locations and who have a positions within Public Health that involve immunization. Although the memo did indicate that managers would work with AHNs to assigning them to another urban testing site.

AUPE staff

Several AUPE admin positions will end for temporary staff at the Bow Trail location and who were hired externally into AHS. They, too, will receive casual opportunities.

Additional AUPE positions, such as “admin IV” and stores staff, won’t be affected by the transition. Staff in these positions will transition into the vaccination programme.

Workers personally affected by the terminations will be contacted directly via email regarding their individual job loss.

The memo didn’t mention how many workers would be affected and union officials I contacted were unsure of exact numbers.

The transition to immunization will begin in less than a week, on the 20th. Layoffs will begin then, with the final termination occurring sometime within the next two weeks.

The management team called the shift in demand that they’re using as an excuse for the layoffs as “exciting” and an “important step forward”. And they did conclude the memo saying how much they appreciated the labour of these soon-to-be laid off health care workers.

Here is a screenshot of the memo I received:

Support independent journalism

By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

4 replies on “AHS announces layoffs for Calgary COVID-19 health workers”

Testing should have continued in all locations. We are in the second wave of this pandemic, with new, more contagious variants now appearing in our country. How will we know the extent of these new variants here in Alberta, if testing is reduced?

Parents of children exposed to Covid at school and sent home to self-isolate are claiming on social media that they cannot have their asymptomatic children tested without an outbreak number, which is no longer being provided. If correct, this is a mistake. Children are more likely to suffer severe outcomes from some of the new variants, as well as spreading them, and the new variants are up to 50 percent more contagious. Monitoring the asymptomatic children with known exposure to Covid at school is very important, if we want to keep ahead of the new variants. Of course, this might point to a need to shut down schools again at some point, which clearly does not suit this provincial government’s ideology. Why couldn’t qualified testers be sent into schools with active Covid cases?

Ideally, all testing locations should have remained open, with hours expanded for immunization. This way, staff who are qualified to immunize could remain, without layoffs and rehiring. Hours for testing could be adjusted to allow more time for inoculation, as shipments of the vaccine increase in the spring and summer of 2021. With staff already in place, vaccine appointment scheduling would be a smoother transition. This business of laying off temporary staff, then rehiring, is bound to be disruptive. We have already seen this week how vaccination for healthcare workers has been chaotic and confusing.

I believe that immunization must be done 24/7 in the spring and summer if there is to be any hope of getting Alberta’s people protected. This cannot be allowed to drag on for years. The biggest obstacle is not vaccine shipments, which will increase soon. It is that our provincial government cannot seem to get its act together to manage the supplies they have now. They won’t even tell us what the plan is…because they don’t have one? I hope they can find their way out of the knots they’ve tied themselves into, because people are dying. They’re still politicking, still blaming, and threatening to cancel appointments while failing to make a plan. Not a good look, and the threshold of public tolerance for this juvenile nonsense and cauterwauling is shrinking.

Yes, of course there are still testing centres in Calgary, thus “reduce”. Does it make sense to reduce service in the urban hotspots during a pandemic, when hospitalizations and ICU rates remain high? Better to retain the testing centres, as they were, and adjust hours for vaccination as supplies of vaccine increase. Why keep reinventing the wheel?

Comment on this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.