Canadian Taxpayers Federation attack on front-line nurses’ contract shows open collusion with the Kenney government

For Immediate Release

February 5, 2020

EDMONTON - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s intentionally misleading attack on the United Nurses of Alberta’s current collective agreement shines a bright light on the highly partisan arrangement between the secretive anti-union lobby group and the Kenney government.

“The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) operates openly as a part of the United Conservative Party propaganda machine, serving media the government’s talking points about the nurses’ current round of bargaining with Alberta Health Services while the government directs AHS bargaining behind the scenes,” said AFL President Gil McGowan. 

“The CTF is a classic example of an ‘Astro-Turf’ group, which pretends to represent a large group of citizens’ interests but in fact serves the special interests of a tiny group of insiders. Its only ‘members’ are the four people on its board of directors,” he said. 

It’s important for working people to understand that the Feb. 5 CTF news release illustrates how the group is not a “tax watchdog,” as it claims, but a key part of the ecology of partisan support groups that coordinate their messages with the UCP to support its pro-austerity, low-pay, anti-worker agenda, McGowan said.

Calling nurses’ pay and modest pensions “golden benefits,” making misleading claims nurses receive “double pensions,” and saying overtime for nurses who work overtime is “unfair,” all show how the CTF dovetails its messaging with a government led by a premier who used to be the president and CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

AHS and the E&Y report highlight the rather large amount of overtime nurses are asked to work. The clear solution is that we need more frontline nurses - not less - as some commentators have suggested so that nurses are not required to work overtime to ensure patients receive quality care.

It’s no coincidence that this attack on front-line nurses directly parallels bargaining positions taken in the past few days by the AHS bargaining team and tweets posted by the premier’s issues management staff. The spin is dishonest, but the similarity of the arguments made is a smoking gun for the collusion between Kenny and the organization he used to lead.

As the CTF well understands, salary rates for all classes of employees are higher in Alberta than all other Canadian provinces.

This shows that the CTF, as an open ally of the government, supports Kenney’s plan to have front line workers like nurses and health care aides pay for the government’s $4.7-billion tax cuts to corporations while making huge cuts to the health care system.

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Media Contact:

Gil McGowan

President, AFL

(780) 218-9888 or gmcgowan@afl.org