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Time for Action June Town Halls - All details

Pandemic Relief? Not for Albertans with disabilities and their support workers

Guardians, residents and AUPE members organize to Protect Disability Services during COVID crisis.

Jul 28, 2020

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by Trevor Zimmerman, Organizing Staff

Over 300 AUPE members are racing the clock to stop privatization of services they provide for persons with developmental disabilities.

In mid-June, Members of Local 009 and 006 received devastating communication from the UCP government: A 90-day notice for review of the services they provide to explore “alternative service delivery” – another term for “privatization.”

The review would impact a number of homes, including Scenic Bow in Calgary, as well as Rosecrest, Hardisty, Woodvale and others in Edmonton.

Guardians of the over 200 people who live in these homes received similar notice, despite those who AUPE representatives spoke with never consenting to the sale of the public services.

He [Jason Kenney] knows workers can stop the privatization he has planned if they work together. We won’t let him silence our voice, regardless of any bills he wants to pass.
Karen Weiers

AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers

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Knowing they were backed by the people they care for, AUPE members got organized. While this isn’t the first time we’ve banded together to stop the sale of a persons with development disabilities (PDD) home, it is the first time we’ve organized through a global pandemic.

“The threat of privatization and job losses still looms in September. That hasn’t disappeared because of the viral outbreak,” says AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers. 

“This means as a union we’re not only supporting members to Protect Disability Services, but also adapting how we do union political action during COVID-19.”

Member in face mask with sign that reads Privatizing during a pandemic?!? That's cruel.
On July 24, 2020 PDD workers and guardians rallied outside of Minister Rajan Sawhney's constituency office

Organizing – what does it look like today?

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Local 009 and 006 members have taken a number of actions to stand up for the services they deliver and the Albertans they support.

  • Meetings are being held virtually to respect physical distancing, and an online petition has been launched at
  • By July 24 3,000 people had signed the petition. That day, workers from Scenic Bow, together with guardians of residents, delivered the petition to Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney's constituency office and rallied outside the building.
  • Members are recruiting other members to the campaign by phone and text, and calls are being made to Minister Rajan Sawhney’s offices to demand they stop privatization plans. 
  • Families have offered to show the homes to Minister Sawhney, so she can see the quality care provided by AUPE members firsthand. To date she has not taken them up on the offer.

“This is the kind of political activity Jason Kenney wants to limit for union members,” says Weiers. “He knows workers can stop the privatization he has planned if they work together. We won’t let him silence our voice, regardless of any bills he wants to pass.”

“We will keep pressuring the government over the summer. If they don’t change their minds by September, we will talk with members about escalating action to protect services for Albertans with disabilities,” she adds.

Want to get involved?

Members who want to help should contact AUPE organizer Trevor Zimmerman.

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