EDMONTON - The proposed rollbacks by the Kenney UCP government for healthcare professionals is the latest example of this government’s disrespect for frontline workers. At a time when the government is projecting a more than $500 million surplus and frontline workers have been on the frontlines of a pandemic, Public Interest Alberta is calling for the government to retract its proposals and bargain in good faith.
“Frontline healthcare workers have given everything over the past two years to make sure Albertans are taken care of through this pandemic, ” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Now the UCP are proposing wage cuts of up to 10.93 percent for those same workers – it’s a slap in the face to the professionals – mostly women – who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic. ”
In an email to Health Sciences of Association of Alberta (HSAA) members, it was revealed that Alberta Health Services’ (ASH) initial wage proposals contain the following proposed cuts:
- Pharmacy Technician – 10.93 per cent
- Social Worker – 10.90 per cent
- Speech Language Pathologist – 8.69 per cent
- Respiratory Therapist – 8.05 per cent
- Health Information Management Professional – 7.49 per cent
- Occupational Therapist – 5.39 per cent
- Pharmacist – 5.10 per cent
- Therapy Assistant – 2.35 per cent
- Physiotherapist – 2.33 per cent
- Diagnostic Sonographer – 1.87 per cent
- Dietitian – 0.88 per cent
- Advanced Care Paramedic – 0.28 per cent
Public Interest Alberta is calling on the UCP Government and AHS to retract these monetary proposals and table wage proposals in-line with what was offered to Registered Nurses.
- 4.25-per-cent pay increases over the life of the agreement. Alberta nurses will remain the highest paid in Canada.
- Conversion of current semi-annual lump-sum payments to the wage grid.
- A one-time lump sum payment of 1 per cent for 2021 in recognition of nurses’ contributions during the pandemic.
- Enhanced psychological and mental health supports.
- Creation of a union-employer provincial workload advisory committee.
- Implementation of a Rural Capacity Investment Fund, which will allocate $5 million a year to recruitment and retention strategies in rural and remote areas of the province, and $2.5 million a year for relocation assistance.
Similarly to what is now being proposed to HSAA professional members, negotiations with Registered Nurses began in 2020 with proposed wage cuts and many rollbacks.
“All our healthcare heroes deserve our praise and support after two long years, but the Kenney government seems to be playing favourites,” said Lafortune. “With utility bills and the cost of gas skyrocketing, how does Jason Kenney expect these healthcare workers to get by on a 10 percent wage cut? It’s the latest example of how this UCP government plans to balance their budget: on the backs of hardworking Albertans, their hopes, dreams and plans for the future.”
“Kenney simply can’t be trusted to prioritize Albertans and our healthcare workers,” said Lafortune. “It’s always slash and burn with this UCP government, never investing and strengthening. Now more than ever, we need to rebuild Alberta’s future with a focus on our healthcare heroes and other frontline workers who we leaned on to carry us through.”