Health Minister Tyler Shandro releasing the province’s gradual plan to implement changes from a 2019 review of Alberta Health Services.

A report released in February this year outlined dozens of recommendations from external consultants about how AHS could save money and operate more efficiently.

Shandro says the province will only proceed with a portion of those changes during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to maintain vital frontline positions.

“The pandemic has changed everything,” said Shandro. “As a result, AHS has been directed to proceed carefully, putting patient care above all else. As a first step, AHS has been directed to eliminate a minimum of 100 management positions and to proceed with previously announced contracting work. This approach will allow us to strike the right balance between supporting the COVID-19 response and Alberta‚Äôs challenging fiscal situation,” Minister Shandro on Tuesday morning.

AHS will also continue with previously announced plans to contract out laundry and lab services to the private sector in order to get the best value.

Shandro notes that these initial plans are expected to result in about $600 million in savings annually.

Meanwhile, AHS has been given the go ahead by the provincial government to proceed with developing business cases for both environmental and food preparation services in 2022 and 2023. Both business cases will be subject to review and approval by the Government of Alberta.

Minister Shandro also stressed on Tuesday that there will be no job losses for nurses or for other front-line clinical staff. Any reduction in full-time equivalent positions will be in keeping with proactive disclosures announced in the fall of 2019.

This plan though, as expected, is not sitting well with either the opposition NDP or provincial unions. The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says it will not let the UCP “sell off 9,700 general support services (GSS) jobs and eliminate 800 clinical positions without a fight.”