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AUPE warns UCP’s misguided Bill 22 will do more harm than good

AUPE members aren’t buying the Health Minister’s promise of ‘stability’ as the UCP dismantles Alberta’s public health care system.

May 17, 2024

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EDMONTON – Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members aren’t buying the Health Minister’s promise of ‘stability’ as the UCP dismantles Alberta’s public health care system.

At a May 15 town hall meeting, Health Minister Adriana LaGrange told attendees Bill 22 will break up the health care system into four ‘Provincial Health Agencies.’ Staff working in these ‘agencies’ will be transitioned over to each sector, each with its own ‘sector minister’ overseeing the delivery of services. The sectors are being separated into acute care, primary care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction health services.

However, there was no indication of who the sector ministers would be or when that information would be shared with staff.

AUPE Vice-President Sandra Azocar says the UCP’s decision to ram through massive changes within the next two years is alarming.

“Frontline workers are capable of adapting to change,” she says. “But when you throw workers—who are already short-staffed, overworked and burnt out—into a major systemic overhaul, you create chaos and likely do more harm than good.

"This does not make health care workers feel seen and valued. In fact, it may drive more health care workers away from their jobs and do nothing to improve morale or retain and recruit workers.”

Bill 22 centralizes power over the direction of health services with the government. The ‘oversight minister’ will set the strategic direction for the health services sector and have the final say on decisions and priorities for each of the provincial health authorities.

“Bill 22 is hack job attempt to push a political agenda forward,” Azocar says. “It’s built on the narrative Alberta Health Services is top heavy, yet this bill will only create more bureaucracy, more CEOs, boards, and management. Nothing indicates this overhaul saves Albertans money, but everything points to the erosion of quality care.”

The legislation is a thinly veiled attempt to distract frustrated Albertans from unreasonable wait times for surgery, emergency services, lack of family doctors, and extensive travel to larger centers to access health care, problems the government should solve through adequately staffing and funding the system.

“All these are unacceptable situations, but imploding AHS is not the answer when the focus should be on the core issues facing our health care system,” Azocar says.

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For media inquiries or to schedule an interview with AUPE Vice President Sandra Azocar, please contact AUPE Communications Officer Maureen Mariampillai at m.mariampillai@aupe.org or 780-904-1158.

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