July 29, 2021
Friends of Medicare stands with Capital Care and Carewest workers
Friends of Medicare stands with health care workers from Capital Care and Carewest protesting the expected sale of Alberta’s public Long-Term Care facilities. We join members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 049 today at their noon-hour rally in opposition to the Alberta government’s continued privatization of Alberta’s continuing care.
The Alberta Health Services Performance Review conducted by private accounting firm EY (Ernst & Young) last February, made 57 recommendations which provided the ideological fodder for this government to start the process of privatizing our health care system by contracting out and reducing health care services available to Albertans. Among these recommendations was for the Alberta government to sell the province’s public Long-Term Care (LTC) providers, Carewest and Capital Care, as a one-time revenue source.
Both organizations are in their sixth decade of operation. Together, they operate 2,800 public LTC care beds in Calgary and Edmonton.
The 3000 workers at these facilities are at risk of losing their jobs if Capital Care and Carewest are sold and privatized, or at best, being rehired by the new private operator at lower pay. Across the country, private LTC facilities have long fared consistently worse than public facilities when it comes to staff-to-patient ratios, resulting in fewer care hours allotted to residents each day, and higher workloads and lower pay for staff.
As we have seen time and again, every publicly funded dollar not spent on staff compensation is a dollar diverted to profits, executive bonuses, and other operational priorities. Alberta has already seen aggressive privatization of our continuing care system, resulting in the erosion of higher-acuity LTC in favour of expanding the more profitable and under-regulated designated supportive living (DSL) facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated existing problems in the country’s LTC system, with devastating results: “The tragedy wrought by COVID-19 on seniors in this country has made evident that we urgently need to reassess how we’re providing care. Instead the Alberta government has doubled down on their destructive plan to further privatize our continuing care sector,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “It’s a slap in the face to workers, to residents, and to their families.”
The privatization of these facilities simply translates into turning vulnerable Albertans-seniors, veterans and the chronically ill into commodities from which these private seniors care corporations can profit.
“Businesses seeking to profit from their industry don't want to undercut their revenues by spending more than they bring in," says Azocar. “In another industry in which seniors’ lives and wellbeing aren’t on the line, this might be considered business savvy; in continuing care, it is morally reprehensible."
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