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Sep 25, 2017

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With the Good Samaritan Society looking to unload their Hinton facility, the NDP government is presented with an opportunity to make good on election promises

A group of AUPE members are concerned about what their workplace will soon look like after learning the Good Samaritan Society has placed its Hinton supportive living facility up for sale.

The Society, which has operated the Mountain View Centre for 15 years, announced the sale in late June. It says it made the decision because it has become impossible to maintain its current financial model.

Alberta Health Services has the right to make an offer to purchase the facility before any other potential buyers can make offers, but it''s not yet clear which direction the health authority will take. Staff there are hoping the government will step up in support of publicly funded and delivered health care.

"This would be the perfect opportunity for the NDP government to make meaningful progress on its promise to add 2,000 public long-term care beds to the province," said AUPE Vice-President Glen Scott.

"Our best case scenario is that Alberta Health Services purchases the facility so that quality care can continue for Alberta seniors in their own community."

Deb Caplette, who chairs Local 042 representing employees at the facility, said one of the most frustrating parts of this process has been the lack of information both from the employer and Alberta Health Services. Most of the information residents and employees have learned came through the local newspaper, she added.

She said staff noticed changes earlier this year, including longstanding issues suddenly being repaired, when they''d previously been placed on the backburner. Caplette said she became suspicious and informed her AUPE Membership Services Officer about the changes. It wasn''t long before the employer announced its plans to sell.

"This issue has become a political football and we''re caught up in the middle of it," Caplette said.

The facility was initially opened as a long-term care centre, but that designation was changed to supportive living in 2005. Since then, advocates have lobbied for the provincial government to provide long-term beds in the facility. The centre currently has a 15-bed locked dementia ward, and 37 suites designated as supportive living.

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