Edmonton – The Government of Alberta (GOA) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) are continuing to drag their feet on a plan to fund and support home care, leaving for-profit contractors and the workers they employ in precarious positions.
Despite committing to increase funding in both the 2022 (12 per cent increase from the year before) and 2023 (further 20 per cent increase) budgets, we have yet to see action on rolling out that funding to care providers. Performative announcements do not address key issues in the sector or provide the certainty required to make improvements. Total funding for home care in 2023-24 is at $893 million.
“The government has yet again promised funding increases to home care in Budget 2023 but we know that doesn’t mean much for workers and clients right now,” says AUPE vice-president Susan Slade. “Despite Budget 2022 also committing to a funding increase, we never saw that funding materialize. Big election promises do not help care workers or Albertans when there is not a plan to roll them out.”
CBI Home Health, a home care provider in Edmonton, is still awaiting a new contract with AHS, with their current contract temporarily extended to September 30. CBI Home Health is citing the lack of commitment from AHS in delays and uncertainty in negotiating a new collective agreement with the AUPE members they employ. CBI has delayed negotiations again and again for a year, promising monetary improvement proposals but canceling them repeatedly due to AHS delays. In response, AUPE has filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
“Home care workers deserve fair wages, benefits, and employment security,” says Slade. “With the government $2.00/hour wage top-up for health care workers set to expire at the end of March, it is critical that AHS roll out the additional funding the government has promised. They must ensure home care workers are being compensated appropriately for their tireless efforts supporting vulnerable Albertans.”
AUPE members are calling on the Premier and the Minister of Health to act on their commitments and direct AHS to sign new and improved contracts with home care providers while ensuring that additional funding is passed on to frontline care providers. Additional funding must come with oversight and assurance that the public funds contractors receive will be spent to improve working and caring conditions.
AUPE vice-president Susan Slade is available for interviews or to provide a statement. To schedule an interview or for more information, please contact Communications Officer Kavi Chahal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-729-5108.