EDMONTON – Hundreds of CapitalCare workers across the Edmonton area are keeping their foot on the gas pedal and once again asking Alberta’s Health Minister to Stop the Sell-Off of one of the largest publicly run long-term care centre operations in the province.
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 29), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members are taking their fight to the legislature. Media and Edmontonians are invited to attend. The rally will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
All participants are asked to practice safe, social distancing, and to wear a mask. AUPE Vice-President Susan Slade, Friends of Medicare Executive Director Sandra Azocar and one of AUPE’s Local 049 members will speak at the event, along with Alberta’s Labour & Immigration critic. Some of Edmonton’s Raging Grannies will also be in attendance.
“This government isn’t getting the message, so our members are turning up the volume,” says Slade. For over a year, the 3,000 nursing care and general support services (GSS) staff who work at the subsidiary’s six main centres have been gathering signatures of support for an open letter demanding the Alberta Government keep the profit-motive out of CapitalCare, which is publicly owned and operated. Over 1162 signatures were collected, but despite the overwhelming support for a strong public continuing-care system, Minister Shandro has not abandoned the privatization plan.
“Right now, CapitalCare serves the community – it’s a health centre and, for some, a home,” says Slade. “The UCP wants to flip those homes for the vulnerable into banks for the rich. It’s unfair, and it’s unsafe.”
AUPE members launched their Stop the Sell-Off campaign in February shortly after the UCP-commissioned Ernst & Young Report recommended that the provincial government fully privatize CapitalCare and Carewest, including its long-term care beds, hospitality services, veterans’ services, dementia care and more.
“If our members, who tirelessly delivered these services during the pandemic, don’t lose their jobs in the sell-off, then they will certainly lose wages, protections and benefits, because those are the first things companies attack to make profit,” says Slade.
But she wants to remind the health minister that the union’s fight isn’t just about saving jobs. It’s about saving lives. COVID-19 tore through the continuing-care industry, which is dominated by private corporations. According to Nora Loreto’s findings, of the over 2,300 Albertans who died of COVID-19, approximately 32% were residents of private residential care facilities. And the majority of those deaths were in for-profits.
“We want an end to the senseless suffering,” says Slade. “Our rally tomorrow is about community, which is the only cure for greed – and a health crisis! Premier Kenney might be taking the sledgehammer to public services, but our solidarity is stronger.”
For more information:
Celia Shea, Communications, 780-720-8122