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AUPE calls on government to reverse mental-health changes

We need bridges between areas of care, not silos

Jun 24, 2024

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EDMONTON – The Alberta government’s move to split mental health from primary and acute care is a mistake, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). 

“June is mental-health awareness month. Now is the time to rethink the government’s plans to separate mental health from the rest of the health care system,” says Curtis Jackson, vice-president of AUPE, which represents employees who provide mental-health services. 

Under the government’s plan to restructure Alberta Health Services, mental-health supports are slated to split off into a new entity called Recovery Alberta. This move goes against professional advice and advocacy, says Jackson. 

“Mental-health professionals have advocated for mental-health care to be recognized as just as important as physical care. Moving it off to an entity siloed from primary and acute care risks weakening services,” he says. 

AUPE members in health care, government services, education and boards and agencies are making mental health a key item that needs to be addressed in bargaining. There are 82,000 AUPE members negotiating new contracts in 2024. 

Members of AUPE Local 003, who work in law enforcement, have led the way for other union members in fighting for improvements. 

“Correctional peace officers, sheriffs and others often witness or experience violence, tragedy and trauma, but don’t get the same health supports that other workers in law-enforcement receive,” says Jackson. 

“The same issues apply to many of our other members involved in providing care to Albertans at their most vulnerable moment, both in government services and in health care. They all need better mental-health supports, including earlier recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

“Meanwhile, our members involved in mental-health care say a good first step for the government would be to recognize the risks involved in spinning off this vital sector from mainstream primary and acute care. We need to build bridges between areas of care, not create chasms to separate them.” 

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AUPE VP Curtis Jackson is available for interviews.   
  
Please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at t.inigo-jones@aupe.org or 780-863-7850.  

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