EDMONTON—AUPE calls on Premier Kenney, Minister Shandro, and Dr. Hinshaw to take responsibility for Alberta’s disastrous fourth wave following their laughable COVID-19 update today (Sept. 9).
Albertans expected the government to offer a serious response to the surging fourth wave today. Instead, Minister Shandro announced a band-aid solution and Premier Kenney did not even show up.
“This ‘update’ was an embarrassing exercise in deflecting attention away from Premier Kenney’s decision to plunge Alberta into COVID chaos and his refusal to take responsibility for doing so,” says AUPE Vice-President Mike Dempsey.
“We are drowning in the Delta variant’s fourth wave and Kenney doesn’t even have the courage to address Albertans, and hasn’t for a whole week.”
During the update, Minister Shandro announced funding for continuing care facilities and homecare. He said some patients in hospitals will be transported to continuing care facilities to help the health care system deal with surging COVID-19 hospitalizations, but it is not clear how this would immediately address the ICU capacity crisis or help the cancer and transplant patients whose surgeries are postponed.
Care workers deserve a wage increase, but Dempsey fears this funding will just result in a cash grab for for-profit care facilities and fail to address inequities in the care system and rising COVID numbers.
“We’ve seen this throughout the pandemic,” he says. “Many of these care facilities are sitting on tons of cash already, they just choose to make a profit instead of actually investing the money in caring for Albertans. And look what happened: hundreds died because of their greed. Why would we place our hopes of defeating the fourth wave in their hands?”
For example, Extendicare has paid its shareholders tens of millions of dollars through the course of the pandemic without fail, even while accepting money from the federal government to ostensibly address COVID-19, and is now asking AUPE members at its Alberta facilities to take -4% wage cuts.
AUPE is western Canada’s largest union. Its over 90,000 members provide public services for Albertans across the province, and they are tired of breaking their backs to cover for the Kenney government’s negligence and failures.
Vice-President Dempsey is available for interviews.
Please contact Alexander Delorme, Communications Officer: 780-264-9274 or firstname.lastname@example.org