“The Finance Minister pledged to both protect frontline services and impose a hiring freeze. These 2 actions are incompatible." — Mike Parker, HSAA President
Edmonton (30 Nov. 2017) — Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci was criticized for pledging a health care hiring freeze and for trying to negotiate a contract with unions in public instead of at the bargaining table.
Hiring freeze will reduce care for Albertans
“A hiring freeze will put the health of citizens at risk,” says Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), which represents about 25,000 health care workers.
“As our economy improves, the population of this province continues to grow. With growth comes an increased demand for services. Our health care sector is already struggling to cope with existing demands and will be unable to provide the service that Albertans demand if we don’t have the required resources,” he says.
“The Finance Minister pledged to both protect frontline services and impose a hiring freeze. These 2 actions are incompatible," said Parker.
Health care services need to keep pace with rise in population
Alberta’s population has increased by 15.1 per cent from 2009/10 to 2016/17, from 3,679,092 to 4,236,376 (that’s 557,284 more people). For an example of the effect that has on demand for health care services, we need only look at the volume of calls to Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which has increased by 35.9 per cent in the same period, from 377,000 to 512,167 (that’s 135,167 more calls/events).
“Once again, in Calgary, Metro EMS was in Code Red on a number of occasions, meaning there were no ambulances available to go to medical emergencies. This is a frequent and province-wide problem already and won’t be fixed by a hiring freeze or a lack of investment in new ambulances,” says Parker.
“Every sector of health care is struggling to provide the level of care Albertans deserve. Our members are already subsidizing care by working unpaid overtime, by going without bathroom and meal breaks and by buying some of their own stationery supplies,” he says.
HSAA/NUPGE reminds Minister that bargaining in the media is irresponsible
“It was also irresponsible of the Finance Minister to push unions to accept a 2-year wage freeze during a media conference. HSAA/NUPGE is currently negotiating a number of collective agreements affecting thousands of workers. This is a complex process and anyone involved in bargaining knows that it is best done at the table and not in public,” says Parker.
“HSAA/NUPGE members are Albertans. We understand the economic challenges this province faces. However, we also recognize the need to provide Albertans with the level of care they demand and deserve. How we balance those needs is best done at the bargaining table, not in the media," said Parker.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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