HSAA President calls on Minister of Health to abandon plans to privatize health care

“The Minister is such a hypocrite. He’s praising public health workers while continuing with the plan to tear apart the system like Kenney tears up signed pledges.” — Mike Parker, HSAA President

Edmonton (30 Sept. 2020) — “It is inconceivable to Albertans why Jason Kenney’s health minister would want to sell off the public lab that has made a ‘remarkable achievement,’” says Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), the union that represents 27,000 health-care professionals across the province, including 6,000 lab workers.

Praising public health while tearing the system apart

On Tuesday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro again praised Alberta’s public lab professionals and the success of the public lab system at the very same time he is selling it off.

“The Minister is such a hypocrite,” says Parker. “He’s praising public health workers while continuing with the plan to tear apart the system like Kenney tears up signed pledges. The Minister is calling the million-people-tested milestone a ‘remarkable achievement’ saying ‘every test is the result of a lot of hard work.’ He needs to explain to those same professionals why he is going ahead with the Kenney plan to privatize labs in Alberta.

“I am, once again, calling on the Minister and Kenney to cancel all requests for proposals, and stop privatizing labs using Albertans’ money to pay for it. Every public dollar in health care should go to patient care, not sent out of the province for profits.”

Increased testing due to HSAA members hard work, not hiring

HSAA/NUPGE members are the thousands of lab professionals responsible for implementing and executing an increase in testing capacity from 300 tests a day to an average of 13,000. The Minister boasts his government “increased work capacity.” That did not mean hiring more front-line people, it meant HSAA/NUPGE members working harder in their commitment to provide excellent health care for Albertans. Alberta Precision Labs Board Chair, Mauro Chies said, “It is their hard work by stepping up with overtime, extra shifts, being flexible, willing to do things differently that has made a huge difference in this battle against the virus.”

Parker adds, “The Minister is right when he says our members are the ones who have ‘worked around the clock to keep Albertans safe from COVID. They have been and always will be there for Albertans. The only thing standing in their way is the Minister and his leader."

“Health matters to all of us. We won’t let them tear it apart. Let’s make it better.”

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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