LETHBRIDGE, AB – “The timing of this is very difficult.”
That from Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf after his UCP government recently proposed Alberta nurses take a 3% wage cut.
The province says it need to get finances back on track and part of that is asking nurses for a wage rollback. In a statement on July 6th, Finance Minister Travis Toews said Alberta Health Services is offering job security to nurses, despite record unemployment in the province due to the pandemic.
MLA Nathan Neudorf though doesn’t feel a wage reduction for nurses is a good idea at all. He says the province needs to look at cutting costs elsewhere in the health care system and not go down this road.
“Right now, after they’ve done the pandemic and everything like that, we know they’re tired and burned out. We need more nurses, not less. We need to incentivize and we need to attract more nurses to help the whole system,” Neudorf told us in an interview this week.
In that same statement a few weeks ago the government said that Alberta nurses are paid 5.6% more, on average than in most other provinces. Premier Jason Kenney stated this month that any savings that would be found through negotiations with nurses would be put back into patient care.
Nuedorf however, says savings could be found elsewhere in the health care system. “There’s lots of areas of redundancy and inefficiency that can be looked at that aren’t frontline wages where we can save costs,” said Neudorf.
Nuedorf, who’s wife is a nurse in Lethbridge, says he’s been very clear on this whole issue. “We should hold off on this. We asked nurses to do a lot more. I’ve been a vocal advocate for a long time that we need to look at the whole structure. I find it a very challenging situation for the government which is looking for cost savings. As a husband to a wife who’s a nurse, it’s a very difficult time right now to talk about this kind of rollback.”