‘No more cuts’: Nurses rally across Alberta in support of public health care

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Numerous nurses ended up to rallies across Alberta Thursday to oppose zero wage increases, possible privatization and cutbacks to the public healthcare system.

UNA and AUPE members opposed possible healthcare cuts and privatization at rallies throughout Alberta Thursday including this rally outside the Royal Alexandra Healthcare Facility in Edmonton. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Hundreds of nurses ended up to rallies across Alberta Thursday objecting versus wage freezes, possible privatization of services and lowerings to the public health-care system.

The United Nurses of Alberta held 33 rallies in 25 neighborhoods. They were joined by members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees at locations including Foothills Medical facility in Calgary and the Misericordia Health Center in Edmonton.

About 200 UNA and AUPE members lined 111 th Avenue outside the Royal Alexandra Health Center in Edmonton over the lunch hour.

They waved flags and chanted mottos like, “No more cuts, Kenney sucks” as passing vehicle drivers beeped their horns.

Nurses say they are seeing impacts of cuts they state they are harming health care. They are also worried the federal government means to lay off registered nurses and use certified practical nurses in their location– making LPNs do more work without paying them more cash.

The government competes that an effort to decrease costs will not decrease care.

” It’s what we campaigned on, the MacKinnon report and the AHS review confirmed it,” Steve Buick, press secretary for Health Minister Tyler Shandro, stated in an email Thursday afternoon.

” We campaigned on strengthening our publicly-funded health system, beginning with increasing gain access to and lowering wait times. Every dollar we save will remain in the system to do that, consisting of financing 80,000 more surgeries to give Albertans the best access in Canada.”

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The government started off bargaining for the next cumulative contract with UNA by offering 4 years of pay freezes and cuts to some agreement provisions.

A report this month by Ernst & Young consisted of 57 recommendations and 72 cost savings opportunities to enhance the quality and sustainability of health service. The report described methods to save as much as $1.9 billion.

Shandro has said a few of its suggestions will be off the table. AHS is evaluating the report and has said it will develop a detailed implementation strategy within 100 days.

” I am out here today because I truly value public health care,” stated Samantha Waller, an intensive care nurse at the Royal Alex. ” I value the services that I offer. I know it is essential to my clients and their families and I understand it’s worth defending.”

Aisha Brown, another signed up nurse at the same hospital, recently went back to work after tearing a muscle in her shoulder while lifting a patient to take her to the bathroom. The injury occurred while her unit was short-staffed, she said.

Like Waller, Brown is worried about quality of care she is able to supply clients.

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” It’s so unreasonable for clients. It’s hazardous for the personnel. It’s not an excellent circumstance for anyone right now,” she said.

” I love my job. I enjoy what I do. And I simply desire to do it to the very best of my capability and today I’m not able to do that.”

Aisha Brown, a registered nurse who operates at the Royal Alexandra Health Center in Edmonton, was just recently hurt while moving a patient. The system was understaffed at the time, she said. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC)

In Calgary, about 200 workers were signed up with by NDP Leader Rachel Notley at a rally outside Foothills Medical facility.

Notley told reporters she is hearing more aggravation every day about the instructions of the United Conservative federal government is taking on healthcare.

” On the doorsteps, individuals are mad about the attacks on health care that Jason Kenney is introducing,” Notley said. “They remember him guaranteeing not to do this.”

The government has actually asked for expressions of interest from business interested in offering surgeries like hernia repair work and mastectomies in non-hospital, private surgical centers.

Client security ‘at risk’

Nurses were signed up with by members of AUPE at a protest of about 50 to 60 outside Alberta Hospital Edmonton, a psychiatric facility in the city’s far northeast.

AUPE member Pauline Clark has actually worked as a psychiatric assistant at Alberta Medical facility for 21 years. She said she is worried about the effect of task cuts because the patients on her unit can be unpredictable.

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” The safety of our clients, the safety of our unit, that is our No. 1 objective,” Clark said. “If they cut personnel, that is going to put everybody at threat.”

Clark said all the public sector unions in Alberta are dealing with the exact same settlements and the very same efforts at cost-cutting.

” All the unions in this province are unified as one,” she said. “We are all stating the exact same thing to Jason Kenney. Stop. Have a look at what you are doing. This is unsafe.”

NDP leader Rachel Notley spoke at the nurses’ rally at the Foothills Medical Facility in Calgary on Thursday. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

The province has actually proposed the almost 24,000 AUPE members who operate in basic government services take a one-per-cent income rollback, followed by three years of no boosts, in the next cumulative arrangement.

The government also wants to get rid of provisions versus contracting out and layoffs.

AUPE president Guy Smith is expecting the exact same for union members who operate in health care as those negotiations get underway in the next 2 weeks.

” Those problems are going to be handled at the negotiating table ideally, but we have actually also been preparing our members for the truth they might need to take task action in order to fix this,” Smith stated. “Because it’s going to be a struggle to do that at the bargaining table.”

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