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Alberta nurses hold rallies against government plan for health care

Last Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 8:46 am MDT

NDP MLA David Shepherd attends a nurses rally at an Edmonton hospital on Feb 13, 2020 CREDIT: @DShepYEG, Twitter)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Hundreds of nurses rallied against the provincial government Thursday to protest possible layoffs and how it could affect patient care.

About a dozen rallies were held across the province including four in Calgary at places like the Peter Lougheed Hospital and Foothills Hospital.

Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley attended the rally at Foothills and said nurses are frustrated at the United Conservatives for breaking promises on health care.

“What we’re seeing is a growing amount of anger. This is one of many ways to turn up the volume and ensure that there is a robust conversation amongst Albertans about whether they’re prepared to accept the lies that Jason Kenney told and prepare to let their health care system be undermined.”

The UCP government is looking at changes to spending at Alberta Health Services (AHS) following an independent review of the agency.

WATCH: Concerns of privatization and higher costs as AHS review comes in

The review called for close to $2 billion in savings and the possible closure of some rural hospitals that are underperforming, which the government said would never happen.

“Tell Albertans, what are the names of those 77 hospitals that the UCP thinks aren’t viable anymore,” said Notley. “They haven’t released those names and they should.”

Notley took to social media Thursday to call out what she claims is an “unprecedented assault on our healthcare system.”

In a letter posted to her Facebook page, Notley said the UCP’s plan will throw thousands of Albertans out of work, increase fees, and force rural Albertans to travel long hours to find care.

She also warned about the possible “Americanization” of the province’s health system.

Posted by Rachel Notley on Thursday, February 13, 2020

Health Minister Tyler Shandro quickly refuted those claims saying “Our cost per hospital admission is 30% higher than the national average. We have very large excess costs compared to other provinces, we can reduce costs without reducing care.”

Shandro also called the fears of “Americanizing” health care nonsense. “The Government of Alberta funded 40,000 surgeries that were performed in independent facilities around the province,” said Shandro.

Last November, the United Nurses of Alberta issued a statement saying over 700 full-time positions could be cut over the next three years due to restructuring at AHS.

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