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AHS laying off 200+ part time, casual workers in food services sector

Last Updated Jan 14, 2022 at 9:07 am MDT

Group of women working at a buffet restaurant at a hospital serving food to the customers wearing facemasks - COVID-19 pandemic concepts

Over 200 part-time and casual Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff members in the food services sector will be losing their jobs as the province hires contractors to do the work.

The layoffs will affect workers in both Calgary and Edmonton, including at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Peter Lougheed Centre, and Rockyview General Hospital.

“The revenue generated at retail food service outlets does not cover their operating costs, so AHS is subsidizing these services using finite healthcare dollars,” said AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu in a release. “Contracting out retail food services could provide $3 million per year in revenue that will be used to support core clinical services.”

AHS says it will take about four months to find contractors, and they say they are committed to working with the affected workers and their union.

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The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says the decision is heartbreaking.

“While the current plan relates to hospital retail outlets, AHS has made it clear that this is a stepping stone towards privatization of in-patient food services, as well,” said AUPE vice-president Darren Graham in a release.

Recently, layoff notices also started going out to laundry workers, and the province contracts out that service as well as part of a broader plan to save money by cutting roughly 11,000 public jobs in health care.

“This is clearly part of a large-scale attack on several fronts against Alberta’s public health-care system that the government says will affect 11,000 jobs,” Graham said.

“We are witnessing the greatest threat to our health-care system in decades – and it’s being carried out during a pandemic.”