More problems uncovered in distribution of pandemic pay boost
EDMONTON – Some continuing-care employers are short changing front-line health-care workers out of the $2 pandemic pay boost they deserve, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“We have discovered that two employers are choosing not to give that pay boost for all the work health-care-aides (HCAs) do in continuing care,” says Susan Slade, vice-president of AUPE, which represent t about 95,000 workers, more than half in health care.
“They are nickel-and-diming these brave workers. They are desperately trying to find ways not to pay them for the vital work they do. Albertans don’t expect corporations who take so much public money to be picking the pockets of poorly paid workers.”
Six weeks after the pandemic pay boost for HCAs was supposed to start, employees at four Chartwell facilities have yet to receive a penny. These four facilities are Griesbach, Heritage Valley and Wild Rose in Edmonton and Eau Claire in Calgary.
The employer is drawing a distinction between work they do for publicly funded beds in their facilities and privately funded beds. They claim that the pay boost must only be applied to the public portion. The delay is because Chartwell can’t figure out how to determine how the staff divide their duties.
“This is utter nonsense, of course,” says Slade. “All these residents live side by side in the same units. The work these HCAs do, and the risks they are taking, are exactly the same. The pay they get should be the same.”
Rosedale Developments in Edmonton has also chosen to apply the pandemic pay boost only for publicly funded beds at its four facilities.
“This has resulted in workers getting a fraction of what they deserve. We have some full-time permanent HCAs getting a cheque for $10 to cover pandemic pay for four weeks of work,” says Slade.
“Chartwell had revenue of nearly $1 billion in 2019. Five executive officers had total compensation of more than $6 million last year. The company’s first quarter 2020 financials show net operating income of $73.9 million, and $15 million in Western Canada, she says.
On Friday, the Alberta government said it was giving up to $24.5 million to continuing-care facilities, including $7.3 million per month for increased HCA staffing levels and to top up wages. Corporations are also enjoying massive corporate tax cuts.
“To claim they can’t afford to pay HCAs an extra $2 an hour for risking their lives is insulting. These companies can easily afford to extend pandemic pay to all care staff including Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and support staff.”
Other employers have chosen to treat their workers with more respect. Signature Retirement Living at Rocky Ridge faced the same situation and chose to pay all HCAs for all the work for privately and publicly funded residents. Seasons Retirement Communities choose to boost pay for all health-care employees by 25 per cent.
Susan Slade is available for interviews.
For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, AUPE Communications, at 403-831-4394