As COVID-19 outbreaks in continuing-care emerge, Alberta’s public-sector health-care heroes are being called to stand with their fellow workers in private care and help stop the spread where it’s most aggressive.
Yesterday (April 23), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) negotiated an agreement with Alberta Health Services (AHS) setting the parameters for this temporary redeployment of staff. Today, the three unions representing the majority of AHS staff issued the following joint statement:
Every day, our health-care members dedicate their lives to saving the lives of fellow Albertans. In the pandemic, this is no different.
Everywhere, Albertans are in need and public-sector workers are stepping up to the plate to support each other and their neighbors. Some communities will be hit harder than others, and COVID-19 hotspots are already putting added pressure on the frontlines in long-term care (LTC) and continuing care. Our AHS members are responding by doing what public-sector workers do best: stepping up when needed, where needed and supporting each other.
This agreement negotiated between the unions and the employer will ensure they can continue to do this while protecting themselves at the same time.
“Alberta’s private continuing care centers have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. Workers are stretched to the limit in some of these centers and their fellow workers in the public sector are prepared to step in where the need is greatest - heroes supporting heroes to keep the most vulnerable Albertans safe and healthy. This agreement helps ensure there is a process to get the job done.” ~Guy Smith, AUPE President
“This as a complicated situation caused by a very serious emergency affecting every part of Alberta, and the best way to deal with it was for all of the affected parties to work together and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement ensuring Alberta’s heath care facilities are fully staffed and our members treated fairly as they work on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. It’s a credit to everyone involved that this work was a success.” ~ Heather Smith, UNA President
“The most important thing for our members right now is to be focused on the unprecedented health emergency. This understanding allows them to continue protecting and caring for Albertans knowing they are protected too.” ~ Mike Parker, HSAA President
The Agreement, which will remain in effect until 14 days after the Public Health Emergency is declared over (or as agreed upon by the Parties), includes some of the following protections for workers:
When AHS calls on a site/unit/program/department to redeploy members
- The employer shall first ask employees to volunteer for such redeployment;
- AHS shall ensure no redeployed employee suffers loss of income;
- Redeployed employees will continue to be covered by the terms of their collective agreement. Redeployed staff shall remain employees of AHS;
- AHS shall reimburse employees for all reasonable additional costs (such as travel time, kilometers, accommodations and meals)
During this unprecedented time we know all Albertans are relying upon front line workers more than they ever have. Unions and employers working on solutions to ensure the front lines are supported is crucial to success.
Heather Smith, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)
Mike Parker, The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA)
Guy Smith, The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE)