Submitted by Vice-Presidents Mike Dempsey and Kevin Barry
Asking rural municipalities to pick up the tab is irresponsible governance
Alberta is going through real hardship right now.
Unfortunately, many of the problems Albertans are facing today have been made worse by political decisions made by the Government of Alberta.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced dramatic changes on our communities, members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and other working Albertans were already sounding the alarm on huge cuts to provincial public services, including health care, education, and wildfire management.
AUPE members are our friends and neighbours. They live, work, shop, and raise their children in every municipality in this province. AUPE members know how damaging the government’s cuts will be because we are on the front-lines of these services, right in our communities.
The crisis in rural health care could not be more real. The provincial government’s actions are forcing rural doctors to decrease the services they offer or stop practising entirely.
Our continuing-care facilities, especially those that are privately operated, are experiencing horrific outbreaks of COVID-19 with insufficient assistance, oversight, and protective equipment for staff, putting our communities at risk.
With Alberta Health Services looking to sell off what is left of publicly operated long-term care, which could include what remains attached to hospitals in rural Alberta, the future of quality care in this province is in jeopardy.
The Government of Alberta is also downloading the costs of some essential services, like policing and firefighting, onto municipalities across the province.
Asking Albertans, especially in rural communities, to pick up a huge new tab is not responsible governance.
We know that this is just the beginning of the challenges we will face and that challenges will only become further intensified by the short and long-term effects of the pandemic.
However, we also know that there is a real opportunity to resist these decisions, regardless of political differences and affiliations.
Working Albertans have the power to force the government to do the right thing. Join AUPE members in calling on the Government of Alberta to stop its reckless job cuts and make real, substantive investments into what we all depend on, including health care, education, policing, firefighting, and other public services.
Albertans are all in this together. Together, with a united voice, we have the power to hold this government to account. It’s time for Alberta to reverse the destructive cuts inflicted on our communities and get everyone back to providing the services all Albertans depend on.
Featured in the Crag & Canyon on May 21, 2020