CALGARY –Today, nursing care and support staff who work at Calgary’s Wentworth Manor long-term care, supportive living and independent living facility are hosting a rally in support of improved working conditions and a better home for seniors as they continue to struggle to reach a collective agreement with the Brenda Strafford Foundation.

The rally will start outside the building at 1:30 pm at 5717 14 Ave. Media, workers, residents, their families and Calgarians are invited to attend.

“These hardworking Albertans have been in bargaining and informal mediation with the employer for well over a year – since February 2018,” said Vice-President Susan Slade.

Informal mediation started in February 2019 and isn’t scheduled to continue until late next month. Delays and stalling have left employees frustrated and concerned about settling their agreement.

“Staff have been clear about the non-monetary provisions they need to protect themselves and provide quality care to seniors with different medical needs, but the Brenda Strafford Foundation has shown little interest in even discussing and settling these issues with them,” said Vice-President Susan Slade.

“This makes it almost impossible to move forward in bargaining and mediation to determine how resources will be brought to the frontlines of care.”

The Brenda Strafford Foundation is a registered, not-for-profit. The Foundation receives public funding to deliver most of their programs, and at Wentworth, residents also pay out-of-pocket fees to call the facility home.

In 2016 and in 2019, AUPE requested to see the Foundation’s financial reports. They refused to fully disclose them. It’s still unclear what their financial position is like.

“Right now, we know the employer is not paying Wentworth staff industry standard compensation.”

In bargaining, employees have proposed compensation increases and adjustments that would bring them in line with health care workers at other comparable Calgary facilities.

“The employer thinks these proposals are excessive,” adds Slade.

“The foundation still isn’t providing proof they can’t afford them. And other changes our members are pushing for, won’t cost them anything, so they have no real excuse for coming to the table unprepared to negotiate a fair deal with staff.”