NUPGE statement on action by Alberta health care workers

Ottawa (27 Oct. 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) stands in solidarity with members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) who have been forced by the United Conservative Party (UCP) government to take desperate action.

According to Larry Brown, President of NUPGE, "Health care workers have been forced to walk off the job because they have no other way to respond to the United Conservative Party government's attempts to gut Alberta's front-line health care system."

Since March, the health care workers whose jobs are now threatened with privatization have been working tirelessly on the frontlines of the health care system to protect Albertans from COVID-19. Now they are having to walk the line to protect the health care system from the ideologically driven privatization schemes of the UCP.

Privatization hurts health care

When hospital support services have been privatized, quality suffers. Research has shown a rise in hospital-acquired infections after hospital cleaning was privatized.

Given the consequences, privatization of hospital support services is dangerous at the best of times. To privatize services like hospital cleaning or lab testing when COVID-19 cases are still rising in Alberta is something that only politicians so blinkered by ideology that they have lost sight of reality could do.

Then there is the appalling way health care workers whose jobs have been privatized are being treated. Since the start of the pandemic these workers have been putting in long hours in difficult conditions. They are the front-line workers who politicians were showering with praise. And now the UCP government is rewarding their dedication and commitment with a kick in the teeth.

The fact that members of the AUPE have been driven to the point where they felt compelled to walk off the jobs shows that the UCP government is rotten to the core. NUPGE salutes the AUPE members in the health care sector who walked off the job and offers them our support and solidarity.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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