EDMONTON – One of the unions for frontline healthcare workers says the province wants to cut wages.
While we heard Alberta Health Services wants a three per cent rollback for nurses, the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) says support staff are being asked to take a four per cent reduction.
AUPE says negotiations resumed Thursday after being put on hold during the pandemic.
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Union VP Susan Slade wants to know how the province could dare attack front-line healthcare workers who are already stressed and beaten down because of the pandemic.
“It is indecent and obscene,” Slade said in a release.
“Everyone knows Premier [Jason] Kenney and Health Minister [Tyler] Shandro have no respect for front-line health care workers, even after everything they’ve done for us during the pandemic, and here we see AHS following their orders to add insult to injury.”
AUPE says the people being asked to take a four per cent cut are also the people who typically make the lowest wage in Alberta’s healthcare system and some even have to work multiple jobs to stay afloat.
Slade says that these are the same 11,000 workers who Shandro has threatened to fire as part of the UCP government’s privatization plans.
“What AHS considers job security is a joke,” Slade added.
“Not only does Shandro and AHS want to roll back these hard-working health care heroes’ wages, but they also want to fire approximately one-third of them anyway.”
Finance Minister Travis Toews says while the province is thankful for its healthcare workers, it must take into account the $93 billion in debt facing Alberta.
“We must keep our focus on the long-term fiscal health of the province, as well as the health of Albertans. We must control our spending – and that includes public sector compensation,” he said in a statement.
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“Yesterday at the negotiating table, AUPE asked AHS for a five per cent increase in salaries over the next two years. That represents $105 million to the Alberta taxpayer. This follows a demand for a four per cent raise over two years by UNA. Albertans pay more than most Canadians for public services – including health care.”
Leader of the Official Opposition Rachel Notley has said the UCP’s sticking point of Albertan healthcare workers being paid more is a”red herring”.
“We know that the overall wages in Alberta have always been significantly higher than any other places in the country and the gap between Alberta and nurses in other parts of the country is much smaller than the overall gap in income between Alberta and the rest of the country,” she said in an interview with 660 NEWS earlier this week.
AB Finance Minister Travis Toews calls the request to reduce nurses and GSS wages a "fair and equitable trade" because it gives employees job security.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) July 16, 2021
Toews goes on to say the proposal from the provincial government to cut pay by a few per cent is “fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of all Albertans.”
AHS and AUPE negotiations are expected to continue Friday afternoon.