Union also seeks suspension of mortgage and rent payments
The Alberta government should immediately act to bring all continuing-care facilities in the province into the public system and permanently halt all efforts to privatize other areas of health care, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“What COVID-19 has taught us beyond any shadow of doubt is that continuing care is a vital part of our health-care system and that support workers in hospitals are a vital part of our health-care system,” says Guy Smith, president of AUPE, which represent more than 95,000 workers.
“We have also learned that dealing with this crisis requires centralized planning and control. Unfortunately, the patchwork of for-profit, not-for-profit and public supportive-living and long-term-care facilities means that control isn’t there. We must not allow vulnerable senior citizens, disabled Albertans and the chronically ill to be exposed to unnecessary risk,” he says.
“Alberta’s approach to staffing continuing-care facilities means that many workers have multiple jobs at different facilities, because they can’t get full-time work at one location. This greatly increases the risk of spreading the virus between facilities and endangers the lives of Albertans.
“Meanwhile, the pandemic has reinforced the fact that the hospital workers who keep hospitals clean, who maintain hospital buildings and equipment and who feed patients are vital to mitigating the spread of viruses and ensuring ill Albertans go to hospital to get better, not sicker. Removing them from the public system is a dangerous gamble,” says Smith.
“We must act boldly now. Let’s not risk this crisis being repeated in five, 10 or 20 years.”
AUPE also called on the Alberta and federal governments to immediately suspend mortgage and rent payments until the pandemic is over.
“Albertans must focus on staying healthy and limiting the spread of COVID-19. No one should feel like they have to go to work to pay rent or pay their mortgage. We’ve seen lots being done to protect businesses and industries. We need to see measures to directly protect Alberta families,” says Smith.
For more information, contact:
Terry Inigo-Jones, Communications Officer, 403-831-4394