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Government using pandemic as shield to lay off workers

UCP should focus on fighting COVID-19 and creating jobs, says AUPE

Jan 15, 2021

UCP should focus on fighting COVID-19 and creating jobs, says AUPE

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EDMONTON – The Government of Alberta’s attacks on workers and the Albertans they serve is continuing with a new plan to lay off staff and outsource their positions.

“Albertans have made it clear that the UCP government should be focusing on two things right now, fighting the pandemic and creating jobs,” says Kevin Barry, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents more than 90,000 workers. “Instead, what we see are endless attacks on workers and vital services.”

The government has revealed that it is looking to outsource maintenance works at four facilities, the Spy Hill complex of corrections facilities in Calgary; the Edmonton laws courts and the Federal Building at the Legislature; as well as the Michener Centre South in Red Deer. This could affect up to 38 AUPE jobs.

“Rather than concentrating on keeping Albertans safe during this health crisis, the UCP is using the pandemic as a shield to make radical changes to the way services are delivered,” says Barry.

“The government is embarking on a massive sweep of privatization involving thousands of jobs in different sectors. It is determined to hand over this work to its friends and donors in the corporate world who will make a profit by slashing wages and cutting services.”

This privatization is also likely to cost more not less and will lead to less transparency and accountability over how taxpayer money is being spent. In 2013, the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta studied the outsourcing of maintenance of government-owned facilities. What it found was that the government kept financial details hidden.  See the Parkland report here.

In recent months, the government has announced that 11,000 front-line health-care jobs will be cut and outsourced. There are also plans to sell off the continuing-care operations of CapitalCare and Carewest. Maintenance jobs at the Royal Museum of Alberta are also being cut and outsourced.

“This government has put a for-sale sign on everything in this province and they hope Albertans won’t notice because they are distracted by the pandemic,” says Barry.

“The most important lesson we should learn from this health crisis is that front-line workers matter. The work they do is important and they have risked their lives to continue to go to work every day. Laying off thousands of them after this is an act of cruelty that Albertans don’t want,” he says.


AUPE vice-president Kevin Barry is available for interviews.
Please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at 403-831-4394 or



News Category

  • Media release


  • 004 - Trades and Related Services
  • 001 - Administrative and Support Services
  • 002 - Administrative and Program Services
  • 003 - Correctional and Regulatory Services
  • 005 - Natural Resources Conservation
  • 006 - Social Services
  • 009 - Health and Support Services
  • 012 - Technical and Field Services


  • Government Services


  • Anti-privatization committee

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