EDMONTON – In light of its recent decision to bring lab services back into the public health system, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is calling on the provincial government to abandon its privatization agenda and commit to adequately funding public health services.
“While we congratulate the government for reversing course on lab services, it’s important to recognize that privatization of public health services has a disproportionate effect on the economic security of women and racialized workers,” says AUPE Vice President Darren Graham, who chairs the union’s Anti-Privatization Committee.
“Most importantly, as we saw in the case of Dynalife, the profit-making sector fails miserably when it comes to delivering the health care services that Albertans rely on.”
In British Columbia, the provincial government announced in 2021 that privatized hospital cleaning and dietary workers would be brought back in-house as health authority employees. The former Liberal government passed legislation in 2002 that allowed BC to break its union agreements and contract out the workers' jobs to the private sector.
“We are seeing the same agenda at play here in Alberta with the UCP government,” Graham notes.
“Look at retail food services, for example. The privatization of retail food services has been a disaster, with patients, visitors and staff still lamenting the quality of food and the increased costs months later.”
Earlier this year, Alberta Health Services contracted out retail food services at several of its facilities, leading to numerous complaints. They have also contracted out laundry services in many hospitals to a for-profit multi-national corporation.
“We know from past experience here and in other jurisdictions that private contracting doesn’t reduce wait times in the long term, doesn’t save money and doesn’t improve patient care,” says Graham. “We call on this government to abandon their failed privatization schemes and adequately fund the health care system so that these vital public services can be delivered without some shareholders’ dividends being the driving force behind decision-making.”
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Darren Graham is available for interviews.
For further information, please contact AUPE Communications Officer Maureen Mariampillai at 780-566-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.