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EDMONTON – An announcement today by United Conservative Party (UCP) Leader Jason Kenney to cancel plans for a much-needed laboratory hub in Edmonton could put the diagnostic needs of thousands of Albertans at risk.

“Contrary to what Mr. Kenney says, there is nothing wasteful about ensuring Albertans have secure access to public laboratory services,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees vice-president Bonnie Gostola, chair of the union’s anti-privatization committee.

“To kill this laboratory hub, and open the door to the further privatization of lab services, is a move in the opposite direction of what’s in the best interest of Albertans.

“It goes against the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s 2016 report on lab services, which recommended the best way to move forward with lab services was through a public delivery model,” said Gostola. “The report highlighted public delivery was the best way to ensure safe and quality lab services.”

And it’s clear why; privatization of lab services has been attempted and failed before.

In the mid-1990s under Ralph Klein, Edmonton’s rapid-response hospital labs were privatized, but after nearly a decade of issues with delayed service, mixed-up test results and the contractor’s inability to keep pace with changing technology, services were brought back into the public sector in 2006.

Lab services in Calgary have a similar story, with private, for-profit corporations pulling out of their partnership with the Calgary Health Authority to provide lab services in 2006.

All lab services in Calgary were then returned to the public sector through Calgary Laboratory Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alberta Health Services.

“If this is part of the UCP’s so-called ‘Public Health Guarantee,’ Albertans should be wary of what may lie ahead,” said Gostola.

AUPE is Alberta’s largest union with more than 95,000 members province-wide. Over half work in health care, including more than 700 in lab services.

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For more information:

Tyler Bedford, AUPE senior communications officer: 780-298-7626