This is a political decision, not a health-care decision, says AUPE
EDMONTON – As Alberta’s health-care system faces collapse with the massive fifth COVID-19 pandemic wave, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is pushing ahead with the firing of hundreds of front-line health-care workers.
“Lay-off notices were sent in Fort McMurray yesterday and will continue to be sent in the coming days and weeks at locations across northern Alberta,” says Darren Graham, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and chair of the union’s anti-privatization committee. The union represents 95,000 Alberta workers, including 55,000 in health care.
“Laundry workers in locations including Cold Lake, Elk Point, Smoky Lake, Lac La Biche, Westlock, St. Paul, Grande Prairie, Mayerthorpe and Whitecourt will be hearing their fate soon,” says Graham.
Laundry jobs have already been cut in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Ponoka and in the Calgary area. In total, about 400 laundry workers in 54 communities, mainly in rural areas, will see their jobs disappear. Other communities expected to be hit include Athabasca, Barrhead and Devon.
“Make no mistake, these workers play a vital, front-line role in keeping hospitals and health centres clean and cutting down on the spread of disease. To continue with a plan to outsource these operations in the midst of the Omicron wave is crazy,” says Graham.
“This is purely a political decision, not a health-care decision. The UCP government want to hand over more assets to its corporate friends,” he says.
“This is also an assault on Alberta’s rural communities, where good jobs are hard to find. We fear most of these jobs, and laundry operations, will be sent to larger centres.”
The loss of laundry services is part of the government’s plan to cut 11,000 front-line health-care jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other areas that will be affected include: Nutrition and food services; environmental services; lab services; supply-chain and procurement; and long-term care.
“Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta now could be 10 times higher than the recorded figure of about 60,000. AHS and the Alberta government need to be asked: With 600,000 Albertans sick, is attacking health-care heroes the right move?”
AUPE VP Darren Graham is available for comment.
For more information, please contact communications officer Terry Inigo-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-831-4394.