CUPE holds rally at Foothills Medical Centre to support health care workers

Members of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) held a rally in front of the Foothills Medical Centre on Thursday to show their support for health care workers.

Those attending the rally are asking for Alberta’s provincial government to reinstate pandemic pay and isolation pay and to reverse a decision to cut 11,000 Alberta Health Services jobs.

Read more: Health-care workers walk off the job in wildcat strikes across Alberta: AUPE

“Over the last year – and especially in the last few months – the support we’ve seen from the people in Alberta has been incredible,” CUPE’s Alberta chapter President Rory Gilles told Global News.

“Albertans work together, Albertans come together, not just in times of crisis but at all times, and this government doesn’t seem to understand that. They don’t want to listen to Albertans and they don’t want to make things better and we’re sick and tired of them making things worse – and that’s why we’re out here today.

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“We’re taking proper precautions: we’re wearing our masks, we’re doing proper physical distancing – but we’re making our voices heard.”

Read more: Union wants better protections, pandemic pay reinstated for Alberta meat plant, grocery store workers

A statement issued by a spokesperson for Alberta’s ministry of labour on Wednesday said the government recognizes “the tremendous work of all Albertans throughout this pandemic.”

When it comes to pandemic pay, the province said it put $170 million towards long-term care and supportive living sites’ staffing and supports.

“The funding supports topping up the wages of 12,000 health care aides by $2 an hour for the duration of the pandemic, increasing health care aide staffing levels by the equivalent of 1,000 positions and providing paid practicums to fast-track another 1,000 health care aide students into jobs in continuing care facilities,” ministry spokesperson Adrienne South said.

Click to play video 'Unions push for pandemic pay as COVID-19 numbers climb' Unions push for pandemic pay as COVID-19 numbers climb

Unions push for pandemic pay as COVID-19 numbers climb

“The province remains committed to providing support for all health care aides that work in contracted facilities, including the many community-based, non-profit facilities.”

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Thursday’s rally at the Foothills Medical Centre follows a wildcat strike by health care workers within the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) across the province two weeks ago, which was later declared illegal by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

The rally is one of several happening at hospitals across the province on Thursday, with 10 to 12 different unions expected to join in to show their support.

In Calgary, representatives from AUPE, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) could be seen holding signs.

– With files from Sarah Offin and Emily Mertz


© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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