Calgary and Strathmore workers affected
CALGARY - AHS is circumventing its own Vaccine Waste Mitigation strategy by treating general support staff like they’re disposable, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents about 40,000 front-line healthcare workers.
Members from at least two healthcare sites received gutting news from their employer that they are no longer eligible to receive COVID vaccine that remains unused at the end of each immunization day. Meanwhile their bosses, who mostly work from home, are in the queue to get their shots. Some have already received the leftover vaccine doses that are at risk of expiring.
Working as administrative assistants, security, housekeeping and community testers, AUPE members at the Sheldon Chumir and Strathmore Community Care come into contact with sick Albertans every day. Whether they’re calming patients, cleaning infected rooms, conducting COVID tests or helping the public with paperwork, these frontline workers worry the longer they go without vaccination, the likelier they are to catch coronavirus and spread it into the community, especially in rural Alberta.
“They’re feeling really demoralized right now,” says AUPE Vice-President Bonnie Gostola. “AHS gave them the impression all healthcare heroes were equal, with an equal opportunity to receive the lottery doses. But clearly the health authority has rigged the game. They’ve entered some people twice and totally removed other names from the hat. That’s immoral. And the solution is simple: act like decent human beings.”
In February 2021, AHS released its Vaccine Waste Mitigation strategy (attached below), which states, “remaining doses should be allocated in a fair and equitable manner that can withstand scrutiny about favouritism.” The strategy includes guidelines for achieving this standard, but Gostola denounces the communications as “pretty words and drivel.”
“AHS is playing favourites. They’re overwriting their own rules and letting the high-paid bosses jump the queue, while they kick the low-wage, minimal-benefit workers out of line. Isn’t that a two-tiered healthcare system? And we know that’s not what Albertans want or need right now.”
AUPE believes the Government of Alberta must hold AHS accountable for its hypocrisy. On March 4 the UCP announced the province is preparing to start Phase 2 of vaccinations, expanding eligibility to more Albertans.
“We love hearing that more people will get the shot,” says Gostola. “But I find this announcement hard to believe when frontline healthcare workers, who were supposed to get inoculated in phase 1, are still waiting. The UCP already lied once about its vaccine successes. Instead of trying to win political points by getting praise for things they haven’t done yet, they should actually do something today, and address AHS’s favouritism. It’s simple, and it will keep people healthy, and probably save lives.”
Contact Celia Shea, Communications Officer, at 780-720-8122.