Healthcare Workers Walking Off Job Across Province Protesting Job Cuts

Healthcare workers across the province are walking off the job.

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees are defending their jobs and the public health care system after Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, announced cuts of around 11,000 jobs.

He noted none of the positions would be frontline workers with the majority coming from laundry, community lab, food preparation, and housekeeping services.

Mike Dempsey, Vice President of AUPE, tells Mix News the frustration with all the changes in the health sector is starting to boil over for many.

“It’s been very organic in terms of whose gone out. Everybody has kind of had their fill of the cutbacks and the 11,000 cuts that happened here with our general support staff and privatization, it’s kinda the last straw.”

So far, healthcare workers in Edmonton, Calgary, Athabasca, Lac La Biche, and more have formed picket lines.

Dempsey says none of the employees at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre have joined at this time.

“We’ve been hearing about places going out and then we don’t hear anything and then another place goes out. I haven’t heard anything about Fort McMurray yet, I’m sure it could be they have gone and I just haven’t heard yet. We expected the big centres and some smaller places but then everybody is saying ‘we’re going out too, we’re fed up.’”

Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services says people may experience delays at the centres where these strikes are taking place.

Some surgeries and ambulatory care clinics are being postponed.

AHS adds they’re enacting contingency plans to redeploy non-union staff, including managers, wherever possible to cover for missing staff.

“I have heard that there are some managers bringing their kids in to do work, or other family members,” added Dempsey.

“This shows how desperate the government is they don’t have any backup workers. They know they’re short of staff and so this is what they’re doing. The managers have all come out and threatened to fire everybody.”

AHS and the provincial government are calling the strike ‘illegal’ and are in the process of trying to get everyone back to work.

“Alberta Health Services is taking immediate action with the Alberta Labour Relations Board to end this illegal activity. Those involved in this illegal action will be held accountable,” added Travis Toews, Alberta’s Minister of Finance.

-With files from Steph Seidel

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