EDMONTON – After months of frustrating negotiations with B.C.-based Park Place Seniors Living Inc., close to 180 Licensed Practical Nurses, Health Care Aides, dietary, housekeeping, laundry and other specialized staff at Devonshire Care Centre voted heavily in favour of a strike following two days of balloting, June 26 and 27.
“The employer refuses to offer employees at Devonshire a fair agreement, which is threatening the quality of care residents deserve and the staff want to give,” said AUPE President Guy Smith.
“Park Place refuses to pay staff the industry-standard wages they are funded with Albertans’ tax dollars to pay,” said Smith. “Park Place is boosting their profits by paying staff up to 30 per cent less than the provincial standard set by Alberta Health Services. That’s public money meant for seniors care, going into the pockets of an owner. It’s wrong.”
“Private-for-profit seniors care providers are exploiting their staff. It’s time for the government of Alberta to step in and take some responsibility for the outcomes of their funding policies,” said Smith.
The employer also refuses to offer Devonshire staff the health and wellness benefits they offer Park Place staff at their other continuing care worksites around the province.
“To separate this group from other staff and not offer them the same health and wellness benefits they provide other staff is not only discriminatory, it’s employer bullying,” said Smith.
In April, employees at Devonshire Care Centre presented a petition to the employer requesting health benefits for those currently without coverage. Close to 100 staff signed the petition, with the full support of AUPE. The employer still refused to offer benefits.
“Park Place Seniors Living is driving workers away to worksites that will offer them industry-standard wages and benefits,” said AUPE Staff Negotiator Mac McNaughton. “With more staff leaving, the quality of care residents receive will decline.”
“Park Place needs to be a responsible employer and offer a fair collective agreement that will attract and retain workers to Devonshire Care Centre. The seniors and staff deserve that,” said McNaughton.
Park Place Seniors Living Inc. also owns Hardisty Care Centre, where 80 nursing employees, who are facing similar issues as Devonshire staff are facing, have been on strike for a first collective agreement since May 22.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is close to 80,000 working Albertans. More than half work in public, private and not-for-profit health care in the province.
For more information:
Guy Smith, AUPE President: 780-265-2294 (cel.)
Mac McNaughton, AUPE Negotiator: 780-221-1760 (cel.)
Tyler Bedford, AUPE Communications: 780-930-3406