AHS announcement targets patients and workers, says HSAA | National Union of Public and General Employees

AHS announcement targets patients and workers, says HSAA

"The real solution to sick leave is having adequate staffing levels and the appropriate number of acute-care and long-term care beds and emergency-service resources, but we see no mention of that from AHS." — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President.

Edmonton (11 Feb. 2015) — Cost-containment measures announced by Vickie Kaminski, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services (AHS), reveal that she has lost focus on patients and is instead acting as a mouthpiece for the Conservative government, says the union of health care professionals.

"Just like the Prentice government is willfully ignoring the need for a fair taxation system to fix the province's revenue problem, Kaminski has chosen not to focus on the real issue, which is how can we best care for sick and injured Albertans," says Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), which represents about 25,000 health care professionals.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has wrong priorities, needs to focus on providing the best care for Albertans

"AHS should be pressing the government for stable health care funding. It should be pressing for more long-term care beds to alleviate the intense pressure in our hospitals and emergency services; it should be advocating for better care for our seniors; it should be fighting for funding not to fall even further behind population growth and inflation," says Ballermann.

"Instead, what we get is AHS targeting workers who are sick or hurt, blaming them for the illness or injury they often receive on the job. Workers' Compensation Board figures show that working in health care is more dangerous than working in mining and petroleum development, in wholesale and retail, in transportation, communications and utilities, and in manufacturing, processing and packaging.

AHS plans to cut costs on the backs of sick and injured workers

"This is no surprise when you consider the mental health stresses of making life-and-death decisions every day and the physical strains of working with people who are sick. AHS's plan to attack sick leave provisions as a way to cut costs is an insult to those who put their health on the line every day to care for others, while dealing with staff and funding shortages and constant management chaos," says Ballermann.

"We should be doing more to protect our paramedics and other health care workers, not blaming those who get sick. The real solution to sick leave is having adequate staffing levels and the appropriate number of acute care and long-term care beds and emergency-service resources, but we see no mention of that from AHS," she says.

"The real message to Albertans coming from the Prentice government, and from the AHS, is: Don't get sick. Don't get hurt. Don't get old. Don't be born prematurely. Don't expect to get the health care you need and deserve."

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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