Government applauds nurses, cuts their wages in the same breath

July 7, 2021
EDMONTON

Government applauds nurses, cuts their wages in the same breath

Yesterday, Finance Minister Travis Toews announced that the government would be moving forward with plans to cut salaries of Alberta’s nurses. The newly proposed 3% salary rollback comes in addition to previously announced rollbacks, in the form of reduced shift and weekend premiums. All together, Alberta’s nurses are facing at least 5% compensation reduction.
 
Said Toews: "As we move beyond the peaks of the pandemic and into a more manageable period, we need to continue the important work of getting the province’s finances back on track. AHS is offering job security to nurses, despite record unemployment in the province due to the pandemic."
  
Simply stated, the government's plan to put the finances “back on track” comes at the expense of Alberta’ nurses and other public sector workers.
 
“Albertans know that nurses were essential in getting us through COVID-19,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “They went above and beyond during the worst of the pandemic, and they literally put their own lives at risk to save the lives of countless Albertans. But now that we’re finally seeing this pandemic ease up, the government has decided to repay nurses’ sacrifice by wasting no time in slashing their wages. It’s shameful.”
 
Many areas of our health care system have yet to recover from the toll of this pandemic, and health care facilities across the province have announced closures due to staffing shortages. It’s clear that what Alberta needs most in this challenging time is a resilient workforce that can see our health care system through the work that lays ahead. Instead, this government is attacking frontline workers that our province relies on.
 
“As Albertans have unfortunately seen many times before, cuts in the name of austerity will do nothing to balance the budget, but will put the health and well-being of countless patients at risk,” says Azocar. “Throughout this pandemic we have witnessed firsthand the impacts that systematically undervaluing our vital front-line health care workers has on our health care system. Yet this government is intent on following the same tired economic approach in attempt to ‘balance’ their budgets.”
 
This pandemic has laid bare a central truism in our health care system: working conditions are care conditions. Alberta’s nurses deserve better than to have their integral work be undermined, and Albertans deserve to know that their health care won't be put into further jeopardy by short-sighted government policy.
 
Friends of Medicare stands with nurses.
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