EDMONTON-As the UCP consider hanging FOR SALE signs on two of the province’s largest publicly owned continuing-care homes, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees members who staff multiple CapitalCare and Carewest spaces are raising their voices and fighting back.
When surveyed through textbank this week by AUPE representatives and asked if they agreed with the province’s privatization plans, members overwhelmingly responded “NO.” At CapitalCare, 351 – or 99 per cent – of respondents said they oppose the sell-off. At Carewest, 535 – or 97 per cent – of respondents said they oppose the sell-off.
“Private care homes from my experience have way less positive client care,” says one member. “Staff who don't get paid enough are run down, so they externally show that with their emotions. Selling would be ridiculous.”
AUPE Vice-President and Chair of AUPE’s anti-privatization committee Kevin Barry is urging Premier Kenney to listen to the frontlines.
“These workers have held this province together by a thread over the last five months, risking infection,” Barry says. “They’re the care network and the family of seniors, the chronically ill and disabled Albertans – and they’re telling you to stop. Stop disrupting lives, and stop disrupting livelihoods.”
Alberta governments have contracted-out union jobs before, forcing AUPE members to suffer the disastrous effects.
“The story is almost always the same,” says Barry. “Some rich CEO swoops in. They drive down wages, they axe stable positions and working conditions and hours, all to earn a buck, and the ones who suffer the most are residents.”
The pandemic has put even more pressure on these businesses, revealing cracks in their profit-first, public-last agenda. Today, another private continuing-care home is facing the province’s deadliest COVID outbreak yet.
"We have just had a chance to see how privatized companies work. No, thank you. Our patients and staff do not deserve that," says one Carewest employee.
The proposed plan to privatize CapitalCare and Carewest –wholly-owned subsidiaries of Alberta Health Services (AHS) – was a recommendation in the $2-million Ernst & Young AHS report that the UCP commissioned back in 2019. The report also recommends privatizing housekeeping, food services and hospital laundry. Health Minister Tyler Shandro instructed AHS to deliver a plan to implement all but two of the report recommendations by Aug. 13.
“If the UCP are being transparent, they’ll release the plan on time, so members and the Albertans they support can see what kind of struggle we’re up against. One thing is certain though: we’re not letting these homes go without a fight,” Barry says.
For more information:
Celia Shea, Communications 780-720-8122