Alberta’s 122,000 health-care workers insist on meeting with Health Minister

Alberta’s 122,000 health-care workers insist on meeting with Health Minister

October 24, 2022 

Members of Alberta’s major health-care unions are joining together to demand that the government of Alberta develop a plan to deal with the crisis in health care. 

EDMONTON – Following the swearing-in of Premier Smith’s cabinet Alberta’s health-care unions are coming together to advocate that the government take steps to fully address the staffing crisis in health  care.  

Leaders of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)  along with Friends of Medicare (FOM) are urging the newly announced cabinet to deliver a  comprehensive plan to fix the health-care system which has been thrown into chaos by short-staffing.

This morning, Alberta’s health-care unions presented a letter to Health Minister Copping’s office requesting an urgent meeting to discuss a plan to address the staffing crisis. 

The plan, the leaders say, must focus on retaining current workers within the public health-care system and recruiting more. Whether it’s a wait for an ambulance, to get a bed in a hospital room instead of a  hallway, or waiting for surgery, short-staffing is at a crisis-point across the health-care system. Alberta's  health-care unions have been sounding the alarm on this issue for a long time and know what needs to be  done to fix it.  

That’s why Alberta’s health-care unions are offering their frontline, practical knowledge to develop a plan to deliver quality public health care to Albertans. This includes expanding the public system. Alberta can  no longer afford failed experiments in private, for-profit health care. 

“Fixing the health-care system in Alberta means hiring more staff. There simply are not enough workers  in the system to give Albertans the care we deserve. Albertans deserve better than receiving care in  hospital hallways or having to wait hours in the emergency room. It's time for the Health Minister to  listen to workers on the front lines.” 

- Sandra Azocar, Vice President, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

“When health-care institutions are short-staffed, they’re unsafe—both for workers and for members of the  public. Properly staffing our health-care system is a health and safety issue. The Health Minister needs to  develop a plan to ensure that Albertans can access quality public health with staff that can provide  dignified care.” 

- Bonnie Gostola, Vice President, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees 

“At our hospitals, we’re seeing lower and lower staffing levels while the workload continues to increase.  Positions are not being filled, patients are not getting the care they need, wait times are longer and  longer. The UCP needs to act fast and address these issues. We need a staffing strategy to fix health  care.” 

- Raj Uppal, President Local 41(Grey Nuns Hosp.), Canadian Union of Public Employees 

The stress caused by short staffing is causing mental injuries to our members and impacting patient  care. This government needs to be doing more to improve working conditions so we can retain the  professionals we currently have. We need to make Alberta a preferred employer so we can recruit and  train more people to take on health care roles. And we are calling for the immediate restart and  expansion of mental health and social programs, including harm reduction, to ease the burden on the  system.” 

- Mike Parker, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta 

Evidence shows time and again that privatization is bad for patients, employees and public health.  Public health care does a better job than privatized health care, with its built-in need to pay for profit  margins. This is why use of agency nurses is more expensive than creating full-time, properly paid  positions for nurses in public hospitals. It makes no sense to pay the private sector to do a job that public  employees, working in public facilities, do better for less. 

- Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta 

“We are in an urgent situation that requires urgent action to deal with the widespread short-staffing,  worker burnout, and closures impacting our entire public health care system. This includes putting an end  to the government’s failed privatization agenda which is only causing chaos and worsening the dire  staffing situation facing our public system. The new Premier and Minister Copping must stop prioritizing  further privatization and start focusing on improving access and patient care.” 

- Chris Gallaway, Executive Director, Friends of Medicare

We need to invest in our public system and those who work in it to improve health care for all Albertans. 

A news conference will be held today at 1:00 pm at HSAA, 18410 100 Ave. NW, Union Hall B.  Participants can attend in person or via ZOOM. 

Together AUPE, CUPE, HSAA and UNA represent 122,000 front-line health-care workers caring  for Albertans.