UCP cuts to AHS GSS long-term care services will hurt Albertans
AUPE members working in long-term care are some of the greatest heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked through frightening and difficult conditions, often at the expense of our own physical and mental wellbeing, to continue caring for Albertans during this public health crisis.
This very public health crisis has exposed the shortcomings and dangers of privatized long-term care. COVID-19 has spread wildly through care centres, to morbid ends, especially in the privately owned facilities, the ones where owners care more about making profit than providing care.
But now, despite this, Alberta’s UCP government has directed AHS to privatize as many services as possible, including publicly operated long-term care. But their plan has more in store than just privatization, and would be devastating for our health care system, AHS GSS AUPE members, and all Albertans.
The stability and quality of long-term care in Alberta is under threat as never before. This bargaining update highlights how AHS’s plan for long-term care would hurt you, your co-workers, and the health care services all Albertans depend on.
What AHS plans to do
In 2019, the UCP commissioned Ernst and Young to review AHS to see what they could cut. Now, AHS has developed an Implementation Plan on how to go through with those cuts.
Here are the attacks on long-term care found in AHS’s Implementation Plan:
- Increase pay rates for Albertans living in long-term care. AHS wants seniors and Albertans in need of care to pay even more to live in long-term care.
- Residents and patients in long-term care to begin co-paying for drugs. The report says this will “fall in line” with other provinces.
- “Reviewing delivery models around long-term care, designated supportive living, and home care.” In reality, this means privatization and clawing back the amount of services available.
- Changing existing long-term care beds into designated supportive living beds. Designated supportive living means a lower amount of care than long-term care; this means Albertans currently living in long-term care will receive less care under this plan.
Thanks to the UCP and AHS, AUPE members in AHS GSS can expect job losses and worse working conditions from this plan.
Public long-term care is better
We know public long-term care is better for staff and patients than private long-term care. When you’re not cutting corners to make money for the rich owners, then staff and patients can actually receive the resources and support they need. It’s as simple as that.
But we also know AHS is not perfect. To help, the Alberta NDP promised to create 2,000 more public long-term care beds during the 2015 election. Alberta’s public long-term care services would be in much better shape if the NDP had not broken this promise.
Here are some of the benefits of public long-term care and disadvantages of private long-term care:
- Public long-term care has higher staff-to-patient ratios, meaning staff get to spend more time with each patient.
- Higher staff-to-patient ratios also lead to fewer workplace injuries.
- Research shows the more profit a private long-term care facility makes, the more patients suffer bed sores.
- When Ontario let organizations bid on home-care contracts in 2001, large firms and companies spent huge amounts of money to beat the non-profits. Then, with their big contracts secured, the large firms drove up the prices for patients.
Fightback for our jobs and public health care
The UCP has a majority government, meaning they can pass almost anything they want. And we’ve seen that we can’t always rely on the courts or labour board to stop them, like when the board allowed AHS to begin privatizing the rest of our public hospital laundry services.
AUPE members know that our strength comes from all of us working together, organizing, and using the power of our solidarity to fight back. We have already shown we are willing to strike back against this government to defend our jobs and the public services Albertans rely on. We must continue to talk to each other, to get involved at our worksites and in our Chapters and Locals to build our strength.
This series of bargaining updates will continue next week with a look at environmental services. Please talk to your negotiating team representatives or AUPE resource staff if you have any questions.
AHS GSS Negotiating Team
AUPE Resource Staff for AHS GSS
Chris Dickson, Lead Negotiator - email@example.com
Jason Rattray, Negotiator – firstname.lastname@example.org
Farid Iskandar, Organizer - email@example.com
Kate Jacobson, Organizer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexander Delorme, Communications - email@example.com