More job losses are looming at Red Deer hospital as some laboratory services are being prepared for out-sourcing.
These changes were first announced in 2020 as part of a province-wide effort by the UCP government to save $600 million a year. The pending lab changes follow the loss of laundry jobs at Red Deer hospital and other health facilities, which are now being done by a private Edmonton-based linen company.
Alberta Health Services stated this week that negotiations are ongoing to have DynaLIFE take over some hospital lab services, including sample testing.
AHS did not release how many jobs will be lost at Red Deer hospital’s lab, which is operated by Alberta Precision Laboratories. But the Health Sciences Association of Alberta union estimated that about 1,400 laboratory jobs at AHS-operated facilities would be cut around the province.
HSAA president Mike Parker said in an emailed statement that the association “proudly represents highly trained, skilled and dedicated lab professionals working in both the public and private systems. We have known for more than two years the UCP is blindly set on privatizing more of them.”
HSAA was informed by Alberta Health Services that the planned shift to more privatization could impact 850 full-time equivalents. This actually means that many more people will be impacted since AHS fills full-time positions with two, or three part-timers or casuals to avoid the cost of paying benefits, said Parker.
“Transition bargaining” is now underway for HSAA lab workers who are shifting from Alberta Precision Labs to DynaLIFE. “It remains to be seen how many of our professionals will be impacted and exactly what those impacts will be,” said Parker, who added the “HSAA believes all public money in health care should go to patient care, not profits.”
In an emailed statement, an AHS spokesperson said contracting community lab services to DynaLIFE is expected to provide Albertans with a high level of service, greater efficiency and more consistency in routine lab service.
The savings generated “can be used to support other priorities and services across the healthcare system.”
Contracting community lab service could result in changes to where lab samples from Red Deer hospital are processed, stated a spokesperson. For example, this could mean that some of the work currently done in Red Deer could be moved to Calgary or Edmonton.
“We are committed to ensuring that Albertans continue to receive high-quality lab service that meets our provincial standards, including our targets for turnaround times for test results,” the AHS spokesperson added.
“While there may be some reorganization of laboratory service delivery, there will be important roles for all laboratory staff and physicians in the new structure. “
Alberta Precision Laboratories will continue to provide some lab services for the Red Deer Regional Hospital, and all acute care hospitals across the province, as well as operating some community labs in small rural and remote communities, said the AHS spokesperson.
Other services that will remain with Alberta Precision Laboratories, include the provincial public health laboratory, genetics laboratories and other specialty testing, research and innovation services.
More information about the transition will be provided at a later date, stated AHS.
This laboratory re-organization follows the loss of hundreds of hospital laundry jobs across the province. That transition started last September and is expected to be completed in April when all linens from AHS hospitals and care centres will be washed and shorted by K-Bro Linens.