Changes and cutbacks in the 1990s: thousands of nurses laid off

Alberta Department of Health's plan to restructure the entire health delivery system in the province in the 1990s caused a great deal of concern for UNA. The government wanted widespread changes with "regionalization". Which unions would represent merged staffs? Which collective agreement would apply? How would seniority work? Things really kicked into gear in 1993 when the new Premier, Ralph Klein, announced a retroactive funding cut for health care--the overall intention was to cut $1 billion dollars from health care funding over the next four years.

Employers acted differently in regard to the cutbacks. Some immediately started laying off nurses, others replaced nursing positions with less qualified (and therefore cheaper) classifications. One of the worksites apparently told nurses to put Patient Hostess on their name tag, rather than RN.   Attempts were made to sort this all out before the next round of negotiations by getting the government, health care employers and the health care unions to sit down and discuss the implications of the rollbacks and to come up with some solutions.

Ultimately, however, the huge cuts in budgets had grave consequences. Thousands of nurses were laid off.   Most of them left the province, many to the United States. A whole generation of nurses was lost to the Alberta health system. Other health employees numbers were also drastically reduced.

UNA worked closely with the AARN and the Staff Nurses Association to come up with a united front on the proposed changes to the health care system. A health care rally in October of 1993 was organized in conjunction with the Alberta Federation of Labour and the United for Social Justice groups, helping to present a united front to the media.
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"Never enough time"
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"Nurses impacted dramatically by cuts"
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"Alberta makes dramatic health cuts in the 1990s"