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Rachel Notley calls for one-on-one debate with Kenney on healthcare cuts

Unions prepare for fight against healthcare job cuts in Alberta
WATCH: At least one healthcare union is threatening job action as the provincial government and Alberta Health Services both move to eliminate thousands of jobs. As Tom Vernon explains, the NDP also says the UCP are breaking a key campaign promise.

The leader of Alberta’s Official Opposition is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to have a one-on-one debate following what the NDP calls “devastating” public healthcare cuts.

“We know the UCP want to hide from the serious consequences of their health care to Alberta families. That’s why these cuts came out after the budget debate,” Rachel Notley said in a Facebook post.

“Jason Kenney owes it to Albertans to come clean,” Notley said.

The NDP had also called for an emergency debate in the legislature Monday, but the UCP majority voted against holding one.

READ MORE: NDP call for emergency debate following layoff announcements from Alberta Health Services

In question period on Tuesday, Notley directly called on the premier to participate in a live debate.

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“He [Kenney] should have the courage of his convictions,” she said, “and be accountable instead of hiding from the debate.”

“This is a debate right now,” responded Kenney. “Albertans had a debate this spring on the NDP’s record, on spending more for less on healthcare. On spending more than any other province and getting less.

“The government is not laying off thousands of people… in fact, the government has indicated the maximum number of positions that could be affected by changes over the next four years.

“We would hope that there would significantly fewer positions affected,” Kenney said.

A Sunday statement from Jess Sinclair, press secretary for Government House Leader Jason Nixon, read: “No reductions in health spending have been made. We’ve fulfilled an obligation within the collective bargaining process to advise unions of potential impacts over the next four years, impacts that we hope that unions will work with [the] government to minimize.”

NDP healthcare critic David Shepherd also held an event in Edmonton Tuesday afternoon, joined by healthcare professionals denouncing recent UCP budget cuts that have led to Alberta Health Services announcing up to 500 layoffs. 

“We recognize that we need to find ways to reduce the cost of care. However, that needs to be done thoughtfully. That needs to be done carefully,” Shepherd said Tuesday.

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READ MORE: Alberta Health Services cutting hundreds of nursing positions: UNA and NDP

St. Albert-based physician Dr. Bailey Adams also spoke at the event, saying she believes the cuts will weaken the public health care system in the province.

“I fear that the UCP government is trying to create such a broken down public healthcare system that the public will simply be forced to accept a more expensive private system out of desperation,” Adams said.

“Our patients will fall through the cracks.”

Front line workers, including Dr. Bailey Adams (centre) joined MLA David Shepherd at the Edmonton Federal Building on Tuesday, Dec. 3, to speak out against health care cuts in the province.
Front line workers, including Dr. Bailey Adams (centre) joined MLA David Shepherd at the Edmonton Federal Building on Tuesday, Dec. 3, to speak out against health care cuts in the province. Todd Merkley/ Global News

While Kenney would not agree to a live debate, Notley and Shepherd will be hosting a Facebook live at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Alberta NDP page.

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