EDMONTON - Representatives of Join Together Alberta today related stories of how the services Albertans desperately need are already stretched to the breaking point. Further cuts that are expected as a result of next week's budget will make a bad situation much worse.
Join Together Alberta has held meetings in 16 communities across the province over the past two weeks and will have visited 22 by the middle of February. At each town hall meeting, the stories have been the same.
"In Brooks, the hospital no longer offers maternity services and nurses have heard stories of babies being delivered on the side of the road while the mother is en route to Medicine Hat," said Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"In Pincher Creek, health-care workers told us their hospital is still using IV pumps that were purchased when the hospital was built - 27 years ago. In Hinton, we heard about a man suffering from MS who was left hanging in a lift over his bed at a local assisted-living facility for an hour because of staff shortages. In Mayerthorpe and Swan Hills, local citizens raised thousands of dollars for new medical equipment , but after the money was handed over to Alberta Health Services for purchasing, it simply disappeared."
"Cuts in one area are impacting on services in another," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "For example, the $40-million cut to post-secondary education this year lead to the decision by Red Deer College to close the program that educates people to work with children and adults with disabilities. These short-sighted decisions will decrease the ability of agencies and families to find qualified staff over the longer term."
It is clear from the town hall meeting s that Albertans feel that core programs are already being squeezed far too tightly - with real human consequences - and that they do not want further cuts.
Join Together Alberta is sharing these stories because the Alberta government has not been listening to ordinary Albertans. The people of this province are saying that public services are the fabric that keeps their communities together.
Today, Join Together Alberta is releasing a report that paints a compelling vision of the importance of our public sector, alternative to the picture that the Alberta government paints. Produced by the AFL, the report is titled "Public Works! Alberta's public services work ... for all of us."
"An attack on the public sector is an attack on the whole economy and on the well-being of all Albertans. In a time of global economic crisis, renewed attacks on the public sector threaten to derail our economy even further," says McGowan.
Join Together Alberta is a new coalition that includes representatives from community social service organizations, teachers, parent groups, health professionals, students, faculty and labour organizations.
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Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director, Public Interest Alberta (780) 993-3736