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Alberta’s 122,000 health care workers insist on meeting with Health Minister

Members of Alberta’s major health care unions are joining together to demand that the government of Alberta develop a plan to deal with the crisis in health care.

Edmonton (24 Oct. 2022) —  Following the swearing-in of Premier Smith’s cabinet, Alberta’s health care unions are coming together to advocate that the government take steps to fully address the staffing crisis in health care.

Unions show solidarity in fight for improved health care

Leaders from Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), along with Friends of Medicare (FOM) are urging the newly announced cabinet to deliver a comprehensive plan to fix the health care system, which has been thrown into chaos by short-staffing. Together AUPE, CUPE, HSAA and UNA represent 122,000 frontline health care workers caring for Albertans.

Alberta’s health care unions presented a letter to Health Minister Copping’s office requesting an urgent meeting to discuss a plan to address the staffing crisis.

Investment to deal with retention and recruitment is key to fixing crisis

The plan, the leaders say, must focus on retaining current workers within the public health care system and recruiting more. Whether it’s a wait for an ambulance, watiting for a bed in a hospital room instead of a hallway, or waiting for surgery, short-staffing is at a crisis-point across the health care system. Alberta's health care unions have been sounding the alarm on this issue for a long time and know what needs to be done to fix it.

That’s why Alberta’s health care unions are offering their frontline, practical knowledge to develop a plan to deliver quality public health care to Albertans. This includes expanding the public system. Alberta can no longer afford failed experiments in private for-profit health care.

"The stress caused by short staffing is causing mental injuries to our members and impacting patient care. This government needs to be doing more to improve working conditions, so we can retain the professionals we currently have," said Mike Parker, HSAA President. "We need to make Alberta a preferred employer, so we can recruit and train more people to take on health care roles. And we are calling for the immediate restart and expansion of mental health and social programs, including harm reduction, to ease the burden on the system.”

“Fixing the health care system in Alberta means hiring more staff. There simply are not enough workers in the system to give Albertans the care we deserve," said Sandra Azocar, AUPE Vice-President. "Albertans deserve better than receiving care in hospital hallways or having to wait hours in the emergency room. It's time for the Health Minister to listen to workers on the front lines.”

Government must invest in the public system and in those who work in it to improve health care for all Albertans.