Chartwell lays off health-care staff in the midst of COVID-19 crisis
Edmonton - As Alberta’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Chartwell, one of the largest continuing-care operators in Canada has decided to reduce staff hours and lay off crucial frontline health-care workers at their Griesbach Edmonton site, which provides assisted living and memory care support for approximately 300 Alberta seniors.
Effective April 1, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) at the location will see their hours reduced by a third and eight health-care aide (HCA) positions will be eliminated.
“This is beyond disturbing,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) Vice-President Susan Slade.
“If our province’s continuing-care system was in a crisis before the pandemic, it risks a full meltdown in the face of COVID-19 with the decisions employers like Chartwell are making.”
Chartwell previously stated the layoffs were necessary after occupancy rates dropped when the company moved some residents to smaller suites at another location. In light of the pandemic, AUPE has urged Chartwell to reconsider the layoffs, but the company refused.
Just last week, AUPE called on the government to bring all of Alberta’s continuing care sites, including the Edmonton Chartwell facilities, back in-house under public control and ownership.
“Since the COVID crisis started, corporate interests have been prioritized one too many times, and the giants in continuing-care are no exception.
Centralized planning in health-care is crucial to dealing with this pandemic. We need to all be on same page, and the patchwork of for-profit, not-for-profit and public continuing-care facilities in Alberta is keeping us from doing this.
As a result, vulnerable senior citizens, disabled Albertans and the chronically ill are being exposed to unnecessary risk,” said Slade.
As of March 26, 458 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Alberta, with 31 of these cases reported in care homes where infection can spread fast. The province’s first COVID-related death was at a seniors home.
Slade adds that Chartwell is risking more lives by attacking vital frontline jobs, all to save a buck and bump up their bottom-line, which has been soaring. In 2017 alone, the company raked in over $13-million in net income.
Since May 2019, the nursing care and general support staff at their Griesbach, Wild Rose and Heritage Valley sites in Edmonton have been fighting for a first collective agreement to help bring resources to the frontlines, so they can prioritize Alberta seniors’ health and wellness, while taking care of their own health.
Chartwell has continued to throw up obstacles.
“This has to stop,” says Slade. “We don’t have time to play games with greedy bosses, especially during a viral outbreak. We’re calling for an immediate stop to these irresponsible and dangerous layoffs, before we repeat the tragedy that’s unfolded in B.C.”
There, a private supportive living facility nestled in the city of North Vancouver has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 crisis. To date, eight residents have died and the virus is only spreading.
“Alberta’s continuing care system is in a fragile state. Our members at Chartwell needed better support and more stable employment before the pandemic, and they need it now. We refuse to let seniors become the collateral damage of corporate greed.”
For more information, contact:
Celia Shea, Communications, 780-720-8122