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AUPE says gov't needs to do more in fight against COVID-19

Last Updated Nov 19, 2020 at 6:11 pm MST

AUPE workers set up picket lines outside the Foothills Hospital in Calgary on Oct. 26, 2020.

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says the government’s continued bumbling of COVID-19 contract tracing is inhibiting the fight against the virus.

In a release, the AUPE says there will be no trained experts handling COVID-19 contract tracing for infected workers, but instead, Government of Alberta directors and managers are holding the reigns.

“This is only one example of the level of chaos we are dealing with as the government attempts to implement measures to prevent the spread of the virus among our members,” said Bonnie Gostola, vice-president of AUPE, in a release.

“Contact tracing is a vital weapon in the battle against the virus, but this government is not taking this seriously. Maybe that, and Alberta’s failed tracing app, explains why this government is unable to determine the origin of 73 per cent of the cases here.”

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She adds that Alberta Health Services is foregoing its responsibilities to keep Albertans safe and instead offloading it to Government of Alberta managers.

“It is clear that this government (is) utterly lost,” Gostola said.

“The employer has learned nothing since we first went into lockdown eight months ago and staff began working remotely and when there was a return to worksites. Our members are saying things are worse now.”

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The AUPE adds that AHS has introduced restrictions and precautions, but then allows exceptions to vary in different areas and locations and continues to provide inconsistent messages to workers.

“One site has masks made by someone’s mother. While we applaud that person’s community spirit, we don’t know if these masks are compliant with what is needed,” Gostola said.

“Our members have performed their duties to the highest standards and provided vital services to Albertans despite all the extra work and pressure brought by the pandemic. The least they can expect from their employer is that it follows the rules and has a clear plan.”

In a response from Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s office, Steve Buick says they are providing the proper PPE to protect staff.

Contact tracing for Government of Alberta staff is being done by managers working with their OHS staff based on criteria from AHS, and support from AHS as needed.”

“AHS provides masks and other PPE as required at all sites.”