INNISFAIL – On Sunday, May 12, health-care workers at Sunset Manor and Innisfail Country Manor will hold a rally in support of better working conditions, and a better supportive and independent living system for the town’s seniors.

The event will run from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm, outside the facility, at 3312 52 Ave, Innisfail. Media, surrounding towns, seniors and supporters are all welcome to attend. A barbecue will be served throughout the rally.

Staff at Sunset Manor and Innisfail Country Manor have been in bargaining with the employer, Chantelle Management, to renew their collective agreement for over a year. Employees continue to face the same challenge at the table as Chantelle Management refuses to table wage increases that keep up with Innisfail’s rising cost of living.

“The employer is a private provider, based out of B.C. They’re not part of Innisfail’s tight-knit community, but they profit off of its people,” said AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers.

“What the nursing care and support workers at Sunset Manor and Innisfail Country Manor are trying to do is bring the money the operator gets from Albertans’ tax dollars back into the hands of the community, where it belongs.”

Between December 2015 and February 2018, the cost of living in Innisfail increased about five per cent, and it’s still rising. Chantelle Management has not given its Alberta employees a raise since 2015, meaning rent, groceries and other needs are costing staff more of their paycheques.

“These workers are stretched thin. They’re doing the same hard work they’ve dedicated their lives to with the added stress of making ends meet,” adds Weiers. “This affects their work environment, which is someone else’s home.”

AUPE is Alberta’s largest union with more than 95,000 members province-wide. Over half work in health care, including private, public and non-profit seniors care.