Alberta Health Services (AHS) is looking for third-party companies to step in and help provide food services for eight hospitals and care centers in Calgary and Edmonton.
Currently, ancillary retail food services — cafeterias and retail outlets — are provided from the AHS budget, but officials say the revenue they generate does not cover operating costs.
“AHS subsidizes these services using limited health care funds,” AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said in a statement, adding that the move could help save millions.
Sites included in the process are the Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre, Alberta Children’s Hospital and Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Calgary and the University of Alberta Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton.
The RFP process will take about four months, AHS says, but a timeline for the service switchover has yet to be determined.
Officials say decisions will be made with quality services in mind.
“Through this tendering process, AHS provides all potential suppliers with a fair and transparent process to share proposals for the provision of ancillary retail food services at sites where services are currently provided in-house,” said said Mauro Chies, Vice President, Cancer Care Alberta and Clinical Support Services.
About 240 full-time, part-time and casual employees will be affected by the changes.
“THE BIGGEST THREAT” TO THE SYSTEM
Meanwhile, unions representing affected workers say news of the food service workers’ layoff plan comes just days after the notices were given to laundry workers.
“This is clearly part of a large-scale, multi-pronged attack on Alberta’s public health care system that the government says will affect 11,000 jobs,” said Darren Graham, vice president of the Alberta Union. of Public Employees, in a statement. .
“We are witnessing the greatest threat to our healthcare system in decades – and it is unfolding during a pandemic.”
The union also accuses AHS of using the request for proposals as “a springboard” to make further changes to inpatient food services, which are set out in the agency’s implementation plan.
Graham says there’s also little evidence that outsourcing will save money.
“It has nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with this government’s ideological opposition to workers having jobs with fair pay and benefits,” Graham said.
“Jason Kenney’s goal is to drive down wages, which will leave workers with less money to spend in their communities.”
AHS says it is committed to working with affected workers and the union throughout the process.
“AHS anticipates there will be employment opportunities with the new vendor(s),” officials said.
In February 2020, AHS announced it was privatizing its laundry services, a move the unions said would affect 275 employees in 54 communities.
K-Bro Linen Systems was chosen at the end of this tender.