Solve recruitment challenges by showing health care workers respect
EDMONTON - The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is laying the blame for recent facility and bed closures in rural Alberta at the feet of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
An AHS memorandum dated June 4 advising stakeholders of temporary bed closures at the St. Therese - St. Paul Healthcare Centre and the Elk Point Island Heath Care Centre cites difficulties recruiting staff as the reason. In the case of Elk Point Island, residents there will face the closure of their Emergency Department every Tuesday and Thursday until the end of August.
“This is a pressing problem throughout the province, but particularly in rural areas,” said AUPE Vice President Mike Dempsey.
“Just last Friday, eighteen residents from the Galahad Care Centre were relocated to alternative facilities due to staff shortages, disrupting their lives and the lives of those who care about them and care for them,” he continued. “We have been hearing from members for months now that they’re stretched to the limit. Many are on workers’ compensation or disability leave because they are overworked to the point that they are injured on the job or they just can’t take the constant stress and exhaustion anymore.”
Dempsey points to government actions such as tearing up its contract with doctors, announcing the layoff of thousands of health care workers and wage rollbacks for thousands more in the middle of a pandemic and asks, “Would you want to go work for these people?”
“The fact of the matter is that the public health system has been strained for years, well before the pandemic hit last year,” said Dempsey. “Why the Health Minister and Alberta Health Services would undertake a well-publicized campaign to attack these workers and their livelihoods as COVID-19 was threatening Albertans’ lives is a question that they will have to answer.”
“Shutting down beds and facilities because they can’t hire staff is an outcome entirely of their own making. I’ve talked to members with 20, 30 years’ experience who are thinking of quitting entirely,” he added. “They’ve knocked themselves out for the past 15 months and have received nothing but disrespect in return.”
Meanwhile, AUPE has filed Bad Faith Bargaining complaints with the Alberta Labour Relations Board to order AHS to bargain with the Union.
“If AHS wants to improve its recruiting record, they should consider treating their workers with more respect and that includes getting back to the bargaining table so that we can resolve pressing issues like under-staffing and work together to improve the delivery of health care that Albertans rely on,” Dempsey concluded.
Vice President Dempsey is available for interviews. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: