EDMONTON, AB (January 17, 2013): An AHS memo confirming the elimination of nurse practitioners in Cochrane and Airdrie is a direct contradiction of Premier Alison Redford’s pledge to not cut health care services to Albertans in the upcoming provincial budget, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The memo to urgent care staff, dated January 15, states “One of the measures that will be implemented for Urgent Care is the elimination of the Nurse Practitioner positions for Cochrane in Airdrie. This will be effective March 31, 2013.” It goes on to explain that the AHS decision is “purely, simply and unfortunately related to budget.” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said AHS is carrying out actions that are expressly against what Premier Redford has promised. “The Premier and the Superboard are saying two different things,” Forsyth said. “On one hand, the Premier is saying any budget cuts won’t affect health care services and on the other, the Superboard is confirming that front-line cuts will take place. This government needs to get on the same page.” Health Minister Fred Horne is also in the dark, Forsyth said. While Horne maintains the nursing cuts in Airdrie and Cochrane are only under discussion, the AHS memo clearly states the layoffs will proceed. “Albertans are confused about what this government’s plan for health care is. They need to stop saying one thing and doing another,” she said. Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson said the nurse practitioner cuts don’t make sense. “You don’t save money in health care by cutting front line services,” Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson said. “Taking aim at nurse practitioners has got to be one of the most inefficient ways to save money in the health care system. There is plenty of waste to cut out of the bureaucracy that would not affect front line health services for Albertans. Minister Horne and AHS need to assure the people of Airdrie and Cochrane that these nurse practitioner positions will not be cut.”