EDMONTON—After failing to fix staffing levels in their healthcare centres, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is invoking emergency provisions that will allow them to redeploy frontline healthcare workers, as well as cancel vacations and mandate overtime, to fill the cracks and keep Alberta’s strained hospital system from buckling.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) received the news late on Friday (August 20). The decision will affect both general support services (GSS) and nursing care members who are bargaining with the employer right now. In their memo, AHS says that the Edmonton and South Zones are facing the most pressure with low staffing levels and high patient needs.
“It’s no surprise that they snuck this news into our inboxes late on a Friday,” says AUPE Vice-President and LPN Susan Slade. “I don’t think AHS wants the media broadcasting their hypocrisy. You don’t ask your staff to do even more – to sacrifice even more –after telling them they deserve a 4 per cent wage rollback. It’s slimy, it’s disrespectful, and even AHS knows it.”
On July 15, the Health Authority tabled the massive wage cut for GSS members, who were already preparing for disastrous layoffs due to the government’s plans to outsource 11,000 of their positions.
“They feel like they’re being take for a ride – at 200 km/hr down an icy highway with no brakes,” says Slade. “And it’s not just GSS. Our nursing care members are also starting to crash because AHS refuses to bargain with them and provide the staffing levels and working conditions they need to succeed and look after patients.”
Slade adds that all the crises we’re seeing unfold in the health system right now could have been avoided if AHS and the government would just give healthcare heroes the respect they deserve.
“It’s one thing for the boss to fall back on these contingency plans, which will upend our members’ lives, when they’re facing an emergency that’s out of anyone’s control. It’s quite another when the boss negligently caused the emergency.”
In the next week, AHS will start moving affected staff to ICUs, Emergency Departments and other units with the highest needs.
Vice-President Slade is available for interviews.
Please contact Celia Shea, AUPE Communications Officer: email@example.com or 780-720-8122