To resolve inequities in health-care AHS needs to do more
On Monday April 20, without consulting with AUPE, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced “additional funding to allow for a wage top-up of an additional $2 per hour for health-care aides (HCAs),” among other measures.
We know health-care workers including HCAs have earned this raise and more, but this announcement has generated more questions and frustration than a well thought out policy should.
AUPE has made requests for clarification from AHS and the government on how this policy will be rolled out but to date have not received clear answers.
One big question we have – will this policy apply only to private providers, or will the health care aides working for AHS who have the same qualifications, do the same work, and take the same risks be getting the $2 raise as well?
Another big question – why aren’t other workers who are exposed to COVID-19 in areas like housekeeping, portering, food service, surgical processing, the rest of nursing care and more also being recognized and rewarded for their work and the risks they are taking on?
There’s also the unaddressed problem of inequality – even with a $2 raise many health care aides at private providers will still be paid less than the Alberta Health Services rate. This means low paying private providers will still be competing for labour when they should instead be focused on pandemic measures and quality care.
Adopting B.C. style standards where everyone’s pay is topped up to the public sector rate could address some of these concerns.
At the same time we want to be clear that we do not oppose or rule out additional pay for our members that recognizes their hard work. We’ve seen the Quebec government recognize contributions of their health care workforce with raises ranging from four to eight per cent.
Other governments are taking measures to support and recognize their workforce, and we hope to see well thought out solutions to these problems. This should be done in consultation with workers unions ahead of time instead of leaving us in the dark.