"If AHS and the government can't handle routine negotiations, how can Albertans have any faith in them being able to tackle the health-care crisis in this province as exemplified by the lack of long-term care beds and the resulting emergency room delays?" — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President.
Edmonton (08 Oct. 2014) — Negotiations with the union representing 17,000 provincial health care professionals broke down on October 7, with the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) blaming political paralysis and mismanagement for the failure.
Alberta government and Alberta Health Services' mismanagement stalls negotiations for 17,000 health care workers across the province
"Alberta Health Services (AHS) informed us today that it does not have a mandate to discuss wages or any other monetary items," says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President, which represents the front-line health care workers.
"The fault for this lies with our new premier and health minister. These two are playing politics while health care in this province is collapsing," she says.
HSAA/NUPGE represents 240 professions in health care, including paramedics, pharmacists, X-ray technologists, mental health therapists, social workers and laboratory technologists. An application for mediation will now be filed. The previous agreement expired March 31, 2014.
"This is yet one more example of a history of mismanagement at AHS. This round of negotiations has not come as a surprise. Talks began more than six months ago and yet, incredibly, AHS says it is now unprepared," says Ballermann. "If AHS and the government can't handle routine negotiations, how can Albertans have any faith in them being able to tackle the health-care crisis in this province as exemplified by the lack of long-term care beds and the resulting emergency room delays?"
HSAA/NUPGE to file for mediation to move negotiations forward
"In recent months, negotiations have been successfully completed with other health care unions," Ballermann continued. "The only thing that has changed has been the arrival of Jim Prentice as unelected premier and Stephen Mandel as unelected health minister. Politics is paralyzing the ability of AHS to manage day-to-day operations," she says.
"Our 17,000 members are trusted health care professionals who work hard every day in extremely difficult circumstances amid a hugely dysfunctional system. It is completely disrespectful and unfair to negotiate contracts with other workers and then to tell our members they have to wait while the Premier and Health Minister campaign for their election."
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