Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro has softened an aggressive plan to lay off front-line staff, including nurses, and extended the timeframe for a massive overhaul of the province’s health-care system citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But at a news conference Tuesday morning, Shandro detailed a plan by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that still features massive layoffs.
Between 9,700 and 11,000 AHS employees will be laid off, most of whom work in laboratory, linen, cleaning and in-patient food services.
Those jobs will be outsourced to private companies.
Shandro said he decided to slow the aggressive implementation of recommendations contained in the Ernst & Young cost-cutting review of AHS, which was released in February.
“While we’re still committed to the goals of the review, our global landscape has changed significantly, namely by responding to the pandemic,” he said.
“And I have directed AHS that nothing must compromise this response.
“This is why we’re only prepared to proceed with a portion of the actions identified in the AHS implementation plan.”
No front-line staff layoffs during pandemic
Shandro said there will be no lay-offs of front-line staff such as nurses during the pandemic.
But he said AHS will eliminate some of those positions through attrition and, when pressed on whether there will be layoffs of front-line staff after the pandemic, he said, “I think any involuntary reductions will be minimal.”
The minister said the cuts are eventually expected to save up to $600 million annually and there will be a “long-term and gradual” implementation of the plan.
CBC News previously obtained a draft copy of the AHS implementation plan, dated July 29, that contained more aggressive cost-cutting measures that the health authority estimated would save between $837 million and nearly $1.2 billion annually.
The proposed plan included the elimination of up to 10,300 full-time equivalent positions — including hundreds of nursing and clinical support positions — estimated to impact as many as 16,700 full- and part-time employees through layoffs and job displacement.
Many changes from draft plan to continue
But many of the proposed changes from the draft plan, including those that would download costs to the public and particularly seniors, are continuing. For example, AHS will:
Outsource more than 9,000 general service jobs, such as linen, cleaning, laboratory and in-patient food services;
Introduce a co-pay for home care, exempting clients who receive income support;
Increase accommodations fees for continuing care;
Transfer patients from long-term care to designation supported living, which shifts costs for such things as drugs from AHS to the patients;
Increase the amount it charges patients at all AHS facilities for supplies not covered by the provincial health-care insurance plan, such as crutches and casts;
Reconfigure and potentially consolidate emergency department, acute care and maternity/obstetrics services at smaller AHS facilities.
READ MORE: Alberta’s looming health care upheaval
Original timeline too aggressive: expert
Health policy expert Steven Lewis said the original timeline for the plan — roughly three years — was too aggressive.
He said Shandro’s bellicose public behaviour toward doctors and unions will make it nearly impossible to successfully implement the changes, which require collaboration with staff.
“The irony is that the government is right about many of the problems in the system; it just has no clue about change management,” Lewis told CBC News.
In a later interview, Lewis said “historically, it has been very difficult to bludgeon any major group in the system into large-scale change. So if you think you’re in a position to win battles that no one has won before, good luck to you.”
Health policy expert Dr. Michael Rachlis told CBC News that if Shandro had implemented the majority of the plan within the original three-year time frame it would have caused “chaos” in the province’s health-care system.
More Manitoba healthcare workers test positive for COVID-19: provincial data – CTV News Winnipeg
The number of healthcare workers in Manitoba who have tested positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, according to the latest surveillance data released by the Manitoba government.
In its weekly report released Monday, the province said 16 more healthcare workers were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the week of Oct. 4-10, bringing the total to 129 since the pandemic began in March.
Of the healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19, 39 worked as healthcare aides, while 32 worked as nurses, and 12 worked as social or support workers.
Of the 116 cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers, the province said 95 have recovered as of Oct. 10. The surveillance report said 62.3 per cent of the cases were from close contact with a known COVID-19 case, with 28.7 per cent of cases coming from an unknown source. The remaining nine per cent of cases come from travel.
CASE DATA IN MANITOBA
During the week of Oct. 4-10, Manitoba reported a total of 502 COVID-19 cases, with 75 per cent of the new cases reported in Winnipeg. In the remaining health regions, 12 per cent of the cases were in the Interlake-Eastern region, eight per cent were in Southern Health, three per cent in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, and one per cent in the Northern Health Region.
During the week, Manitoba performed an average of 2,419 tests per day, and the test positivity rate was 3.4 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent the week before.
Of the cases this week where information on the infection’s source was available, 53.7 per cent were from close contact to known cases, 20.4 per cent are still pending results, and 17.2 per cent of cases were from an unknown source. The remaining percentage (8.7) was from travel.
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The Canadian Press
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams have signed veteran kicker Kai Forbath from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad after a rocky start to the season for rookie Samuel Sloman.The Rams kept Sloman on their active roster Tuesday. They also placed linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on injured reserve.Los Angeles drafted Sloman in the seventh round out of Miami of Ohio, but he has missed three of his 18 extra-point attempts this season, including a blocked try against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night in the Rams’ 24-16 loss. Only Kansas City’s Harrison Butker has missed more extra points this season.Sloman also has missed two of his nine field-goal attempts, including a 29-yarder in the season opener, and coach Sean McVay hasn’t always been happy with his kickoffs.Forbath is a Los Angeles-area native who played at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School and UCLA. He kicked for six teams in his first eight seasons in the NFL.He spent his first three seasons with Washington before moving to New Orleans, Minnesota, Jacksonville, New England and finally Dallas, where he made all 10 of his field-goal attempts last season. Forbath still lost his job in the off-season to longtime Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein.Forbath has spent time this season on the practice squads of Carolina and Chicago.Zuerlein left the Rams after eight seasons to sign with the Cowboys along with John Fassel, the Rams’ former interim head coach and their longtime special teams co-ordinator. Zuerlein joined the Rams in St. Louis and was among the NFL’s elite kickers after the franchise returned home to Los Angeles, although his effectiveness declined slightly last year.Okoronkwo, a backup linebacker with eight tackles and one sack this season, has an elbow injury that requires surgery. He is likely to be sidelined for at least four weeks.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLGreg Beacham, The Associated Press
Winnipeg beverage rooms allowed to stay open as province reconsiders restrictions – Global News
The province of Manitoba has done a 180 on restrictions in Winnipeg that were just hours old, allowing business operating under the “beverage room” licence to remain open for the following two weeks.
Beverage rooms are classified as food and beverage establishments connected to hotels.
The increased measures brought to Winnipeg on Monday morning originally called for all beverage rooms and “entertainment facilities” such as casinos and bingo halls to shut down for two weeks as COVID-19 cases in Manitoba’s capital continued a sharp climb.
“Following further review, facilities licensed as beverage rooms under the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act have not been closed under the order. All other requirements for licensed premises will still apply,” the province said in a news release on Monday night.
Manitoba Hotel Association president Scott Jocelyn tells 680 CJOB it’s a wrong righted by the province, but it’s only a small victory for his members.
“We still have to go back to ‘orange-level’ restrictions, but it at least gives our people a glimmer of hope to try and carve out an existence.”
Under the orange level on the pandemic response system, all food and beverage establishments must operate at 50 per cent capacity or less, stop service at 10 p.m., and have all patrons out of their establishment by 11 p.m.
Additional restrictions for beverage rooms include sound restricted to 80 decibels, as well as dancing, pool and darts banned.
“So much of what we do is impacted,” Jocelyn explains. “Other businesses can start to get their feet back under them, but they’re not dealing with face-to-face interaction like we do.”
“When the government has protocols limiting travel, that doesn’t put people in our guest rooms. When we can’t have events, we can’t use those spaces. It’s body blow after body blow.”
Jocelyn is still looking to the government to provide sector-specific financial support so his members can feel more confident they’ll make it through the end of the pandemic.
“You can’t treat us like everyone else. We’re different, and it’s going to take [hotels] longer to recover than most other sectors. We’re going to need help.”
As for reaction from his members, Jocelyn says it’s a mixed bag.
“It’s a small victory today. We’re nowhere near home, but it’s important the government corrected where they were going. They gave us a glimmer of hope and we’ll keep pushing on the help we need.”
The new orders go into effect at 10 p.m. Monday and will remain until at least 11 p.m. on Nov. 2.
Winnipeg business community pleads for sector-specific support as new restrictions take hold
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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