As shocking as it is an ambulance crew was used by a for-profit Edmonton nursing home to evict an 80-year-old grandmother afflicted with dementia and dump her at a public hospital Emergency Room without telling her family, six months ago this story would have caused barely a ripple in our complacent and inattentive mainstream media.
Yet despite the fact the story was brought to attention yesterday morning by the Alberta Federation of Labour and Public Interest Alberta -- just the kind of progressive voices our homegrown media loves to ignore -- TV and print journalists were out in force to cover the appalling situation.
The reason, it's said here, is not altruism or even the kind of outrageous facts that traditionally make for a great news story. It's because the media smells Tory blood in the water.
With a long-plotted provincial election looming, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives under Premier Alison Redford are suddenly lurching from crisis to crisis. The public and media have started to take note things aren't exactly going the government's way.
And the appalling treatment of Grace Denyer, kicked out of the inaptly named Tranquility Care Home in south Edmonton after the private, for-profit, and apparently unregulated operator tried and failed to jack up the rent paid by her family, and dumped dazed and confused at the public Grey Nuns Hospital ER, is certain to focus more public attention on the Redford Tories' plans to privatize and deregulate seniors' care in this province.
In other words, this is yet another crisis for Redford's government -- which is nowadays reeling like a palooka, looking almost as befuddled as the one led by her predecessor Ed Stelmach.
Yesterday morning, you could feel the excitement of the media even before Denyer's daughter went to the microphone to recount the horrifying details of what happened to her mom, who last year also suffered a stroke and has only limited ability to speak, can't walk or feed herself and must wear a pacemaker.
The facts on their own are appalling, and well covered in the media: after growing dissatisfied at the quality of care in a public auxiliary hospital in the bedroom suburb of St. Albert, Denyer's family moved her to the private facility that advertised itself as being capable of taking long-term care patients.
They thought they could get a better quality of care, Beth Podgurny of St. Albert told the reporters, and indeed Denver was in stable condition and showed signs of improvement after the move. But despite signing a contract, within days Podgurny was told by the operator of the Tranquility facility that the $3,495-per-month price the family had negotiated for her mother's care was too low, and was going to have to jump to $4,995. (For only $500 more, the family was told, the company could house Denver in the basement.)
Podgurny and her husband Jackie thought they were involved in a resolvable dispute over the rent they'd agreed to pay the private operator for Beth's mom's care. The company apparently saw it as a simple business matter to be handled decisively, and "responded with an eviction notice to take effect in only a matter of days."
The eviction took the form of calling an Alberta Health Services ambulance crew and instructing them to haul Denver off to the public hospital, which they did. Podgurny and her sister didn't know anything about it until, shocked and frightened, they received phone calls from medical staff at the Grey Nuns.
"We are appalled that our 80-year-old mother was treated liked a commodity instead of being treated with the respect and dignity that all Albertans deserve," Podgurny told the news conference. "The fact that there appears to be nothing under provincial rules to prevent this is mind-boggling. It just goes to show that the privatization solution that Premier Alison Redford is pushing to address long-term-care issues isn't the answer for vulnerable Albertans.
"My family wants answers from the Conservative government," Podgurny stated. "Why was it possible for our mother and our family to be treated in this appalling fashion? Why is this facility allowed to advertise for and accept long-term-care patients when it is not licensed to do? How can they increase the rent in excess of 42 per cent within weeks of entering the home? How can they be allowed to evict and dump a resident at the Emergency door when they decide they no longer want to provide care?"
These are all great questions, and if they get answers, it will only be because the family has made this a public issue on the eve of a general election.
Earlier, Health Minister Fred Horne and Seniors Minister George VanderBurg didn't even bother responding to a letter outlining the family's concerns about their mother's treatment in St. Albert.
The reality, however, is that Albertans should get used to this sort of thing if the rampant privatization and commercialization of long-term care pushed hard by the Conservative governments of Ralph Klein, Stelmach and now Redford, and advocated by the far-right Wildrose Party as well, are allowed to continue apace.
As Public Interest Alberta Executive-Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon told yesterday's news conference, private long-term care operators have an ugly history of trying to "cherry-pick" low-cost, easy-to-care-for seniors for long-term care and dump the more complex and expensive cases on the public system.
"Unfortunately, this is not the only case we have heard of private facilities forcing seniors out when they feel they are too costly to support," he said. "We are calling on all political parties to commit to build a high-quality public care system for the growing population of seniors with chronic health-care needs -- and to stop the profiteering off our most vulnerable seniors."
Well, good luck with that with a government deeply committed to letting the private sector take over the public job of providing long-term care for vulnerable seniors, the better to provide families with "choice" -- you know, the choice of paying more or having their loved ones abandoned at a busy urban Emergency Ward.
Indeed, here in Alberta, taxpayers' dollars are being funnelled by the millions into subsidizing private, for-profit care of just the type experienced by Denver and her family.
At the very least, Podgurny said, "the government has to step up to the plate and they have to put the accountability back into the system. And they have to do it immediately."
"I said I would never let that happen to my mother before she was in long-term care," Podgurny told reporters, brushing aside a tear. "And it happened right before my eyes and there was nothing we could do about it!"
Now that it's become another election issue, it'll be interesting to see what Redford, Horne, VanderBurg and other members of the government have to say about the shocking treatment meted out to Grace Denver.
The nursing home operator, whom reporters complained they were having trouble contacting, has apparently left the country, Moore-Kilgannon told reporters.
Alberta Diary, Thurs Mar 15 2012
Statements from press conference, 10:00 a.m., March 14, 2012
Family of evicted long-term-care patient attacks plans for more privatization
Long-term care in Alberta is in crisis and the privatization solution being pushed by the Conservative government will only make the situation worse, says an Alberta family whose mother was evicted last week from a private care facility.
Grace Denyer is an 80-year-old who suffers from dementia, had a stroke in August 2011, has a pacemaker and is unable to walk and feed herself and has only limited speech ability (click here for backgrounder).
"Within days of moving into the Tranquility Care Home Inc. in South Edmonton, the for-profit facility started to ask for more money. They wanted to increase the monthly rent from $3,495 to $4,995, despite the fact we had signed a one-year contract for the lesser amount and they assured us they could care for my mother. When we instructed the home that we wanted to stick to the terms of the contract, they responded with an eviction notice, to take effect in only a matter of days," says her daughter Beth Podgurny of St. Albert.
"My mother was assessed as being in stable condition and designated as a long-term-care patient, but on the same day the assessment was made, the private-for-profit home where she was living decided it no longer wanted her and so dropped her off at a hospital emergency department without notifying us," says Podgurny.
"What has happened to our mother should not happen to anyone. It is clear proof that the profit motive and patients make are a poor mix."
Podgurny says she and her family have been concerned about Conservative government talk of raising the cap on accommodation fees for long-term care to encourage more private, corporatized care.
"Today, my family wants answers from the Conservative government. Why was it possible for our mother and our family to be treated in this appalling fashion? Why is this facility allowed to advertise for and accept long-term-care patients when it is not licensed to do so? How can they increase the rent in excess of 42 per cent within weeks of entering the home? How can they be allowed to evict and dump a resident at the emergency door when they decide they no longer want to provide care?"
The family also wants to know why they have not had the courtesy of a response from an earlier letter they sent to Health and Wellness Minister Fred Horne and Seniors Minister George VanderBurg seeking a public inquiry into long-term care.
"We wrote to the Ministers two months ago asking for a public inquiry and expressing concerns over the treatment of our mother at the Youville Home in St. Albert. We have heard nothing since," says Podgurny.
"Because of the treatment our mother endured at Youville, we were cautious about trusting the care she would receive in a private, for-profit home. Based on their assurances, we removed our mother from Youville and placed her in private care, even though we knew the fees would be a source of constant stress for the family. Little did we know that the situation was going to get far, far worse."
Noel Somerville, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force, says: "The Premier has told us that she supports expanding the role of corporations in providing care to seniors. As we see from this shocking story, the province needs to protect our most vulnerable seniors by stopping these types of private facilities who decide they no longer want the bother of caring for your mother, your sister, your father – and simply drop your loved one off at hospital and leave them to clog up the acute-care system."
"Unfortunately, this is not the only case we have heard of private facilities forcing seniors out who they feel are too costly to support," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "On the eve of a provincial election, we are calling on all political parties to commit to build a high-quality public-care system for the growing population of seniors with chronic health-care needs – and to stop the profiteering off our most vulnerable seniors."
MEDIA CONTACT: Bill Moore-Kilgannon, 780-993-3736
NOTE: The Alberta Federation of Labour got to know the family of Grace Denyer while working on the recent Beyond Acute Care Conference in Edmonton. When approached by the family, the AFL agreed to help organize the media conference to bring this important issue to the attention of Albertans.
- Parkland Institute, "Delivery Matters," February 23, 2012
- YouTube video, "Fighting for Her Mother's Long-term Care in Alberta"
Supportive living complexes may be unsafe, officials say
Over a quarter of residents in Alberta's supported living facilities may be unsafe because there is insufficient staffing and care for their complex medical needs, according to a recent study.
And the report - co-written by epidemiologists at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta - found seniors in these facilities were more than twice as likely to be rushed to an emergency ward or end up staying overnight in a hospital compared with nursing home patients who have round-the-clock nursing care.
"We have put some people in supported living when we should have known their condition could quickly deteriorate and there was a lack of medical oversight," author Colleen Maxwell said. "We do worry whether people with diabetes, heart conditions and dementia are slipping through the cracks."
Maxwell, a former U of C researcher who is now a professor at the University of Waterloo's school of public health, said she was surprised to find that over half the residents in sup-ported living facilities were medically unstable and nearly 60 per cent had been diagnosed with dementia.
But the facilities were much less likely to have the medical expertise to handle these conditions than nursing homes. Only 34 per cent had doctors who were formally affiliated with the facility. Less than half had a licensed practical nurse on duty at all times.
"Everybody wants a more home-like environment and likes the idea of aging in place," Maxwell said, "but as with the experience in the United States, there are questions about whether a supported living facility can respond to prevent ad-verse events."
The survey of over 2,000 residents - half in supported living facilities and half in nursing homes - showed marked differences in how residents accessed medical care and what it cost the system.
In the previous 90 days, patients in a long-term care setting were 50 per cent more likely to have seen a doctor, but they were less than half as likely to have been hospitalized or to have visited an ER.
"Once someone has a hip fracture, they have to go the ER," Maxwell said. "The question is, was everything was done at the facility to prevent that fall."
She said the survey also found residents in supported living paid higher fees, faced additional costs for health-related supplies and services and that family caregivers were expected to bear more of the burden of care.
"There is this off-loading of costs and care on to family members," she said.
"Many told us they enjoyed getting involved, but there is a limit beyond which we can expect caregiver burn-out or the exhaustion of financial resources."
Liberal health critic Dr. David Swann said the findings raise serious questions about the province's continuing care strategy and its focus on adding more supported living beds instead of nursing home spaces.
"If the government wants people to age in place, they need to ensure they are getting adequate medical attention," Swann said.
"When patients end up in ERs and hospitals, it's neither the best care nor is it the most cost-effective for the system."
In the wake of conflicting numbers from the seniors ministry about the number of nursing home beds, Health Minister Fred Horne released figures this week that show Alberta has 50 fewer spaces today than it did four years ago, when the province promised it would add hundreds of new beds to eliminate hospital gridlock and shorten ER waits.
Wildrose health critic Heather Forsyth said she was troubled by the decline in the number of nursing home beds and the government's difficulty in pinning down an exact number.
Calgary Herald, Tues Mar 13 2012
Byline: Matt McClure
Government rules allowed private, for-profit facility to evict senior in stable condition
An Alberta family is demanding answers from the Conservative government after their mother, a long-term-care patient in stable condition, was dumped at a hospital emergency room by a private care-home operator.
"We are appalled that our 80-year-old mother was treated liked a commodity instead of being treated with the respect and dignity that all Albertans deserve," says Beth Podgurny, of St. Albert.
"Within days of our mother moving in, the private, for-profit home in which she was living began asking us for more money, but when we told them they should stick to the terms of the contract that we had only recently signed, they responded with an eviction notice," says Podgurny.
"The fact that there appears to be nothing under provincial rules to prevent this is mind-boggling. It just goes to show that the privatization solution that Premier Alison Redford is pushing to address long-term-care issues isn't the answer for vulnerable Albertans."
Podgurny and other members of her family will hold a media conference Wednesday to call on the government for answers about the long-term-care crisis, and to ask why they have had no answer from Health and Wellness Minister Fred Horne and Seniors Minister George VanderBurg nearly two months after writing to them seeking a public inquiry into long-term care.
Other speakers at the media conference:
- Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director, Public Interest Alberta
- Noel Somerville, chair of the PIA Seniors Task Force
TIME: 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
LOCATION: River Valley Room, Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe, 10111 Bellamy Hill, Edmonton.
- Bill Moore-Kilgannon, 780-993-3736
Consumer advocate cautions voters on politicians using “creative language” on health care in upcoming election
EDMONTON - With a provincial election expected this spring, voters are going to be wooed by politicians using "creative language" to promise improved health care when they're elected, consumer advocate Wendy Armstrong said Saturday.
But they won't tell you what will suffer because of those changes, because promises aren't always kept, she said.
"I don't think you can hold people accountable, whatever party they're with, after an election ... unless you have strong opposition. Otherwise, everything goes behind closed doors."
Armstrong made the comments after taking part in a panel discussion at a conference looking beyond acute health care hosted by the Alberta Federation of Labour, Public Interest Alberta, and a coalition of seniors' organizations.
She wasn't the only participant expressing concern. Ryan Geake, who works with adults with disabilities in Calgary, told more than 300 delegates a set of policies called the Community Inclusion Framework disappeared from the government's website sometime in the last six months.
The policies, which outlined what the lives and services of disabled Albertans should be, had been agreed upon by disabled groups, community groups, parents, families and the government, he said.
"This is gone and no one will tell us where it's gone, so if you want to destroy a system, I think I'm learning the very first step is to destroy the values of that system that were said to be important and take them away so people don't have a way to discuss what's going on."
He also said the IQ level at which people with a developmental disability can receive services was changed, making it harder for some to qualify.
"It's another great way to do some cost containment in this province on the backs of disabled folks."
However, after an uproar the move was amended so it wouldn't affect people already receiving services, he said.
But Armstrong said many people are afraid to speak up about such issues.
"There have been times when I've been afraid to speak up too, and this is wrong. We need to have these discussions out in the open. People shouldn't be punished for speaking out in public."
Government officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Speakers mentioned the Health Quality Council of Alberta report released last week, which detailed how the creation of Alberta Health Services in 2008 led to confusion and widespread instances of physician intimidation and muzzling.
The government is expected to release details this week about a judicial inquiry into the report's findings.
Edmonton Journal, Sat Feb 25 2012
Byline: Chris Zdeb
February 21 2012: Beyond Acute Care Conference; Better Way Alberta; Budget 2012; farm workers; HSAA information pickets
Last chance to see Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow at Beyond Acute Care Conference
- You have only until tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, Feb. 22) to register for the Beyond Acute Care: Covering Seniors and the Disabled with the Medicare Umbrella. This is an important event affecting all Albertans, bringing in experts from around the world and across Canada, including world-renowned consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians. For information on the conference and to register, click here; want to find out what the conference is all about? Watch this great animated video here.
For information about the speakers at the Beyond Acute Care conference, click here ...
Great video ad shows there is a Better Way for Alberta
- It just doesn't add up! Alberta is one of the wealthiest jurisdictions on Earth, but can't seem to find enough money to adequately fund the public services that Albertans want, including health care and education. The reason? Our tax and royalty system is broken and wealthy individuals and corporations aren't paying their fair share. But there is a Better Way. Watch the great video ad for Better Way Alberta. Here the cheeky radio ads, follow the campaign on Twitter and like the Facebook page at www.BetterWayAlberta.ca. For more information ...
Tax and royalty giveaways continue in Alberta's Budget 2012
- The first budget from Conservative Premier Alison Redford showed that little has changed in the government's attitude to the oil industry and wealthy corporations. There was no sign of an end to billions of dollars in tax and royalty giveaways and no honest conversation with Albertans on how to fix the province's broken revenue system. For more information ...
Alberta government must act now to prevent farm-worker tragedy
- A transportation tragedy on the scale that killed 11 farm workers in Ontario in early February is looming in Alberta unless the government acts now to prevent it, says the AFL. It called on the Conservatives to close the legal loopholes that allow farm workers to be transported in the back of open trucks and in other dangerous vehicles now - not to wait until there's a tragic accident in this province. For more information ...
Join HSAA members on information pickets - HSAA will be holding information pickets tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 22)from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bargaining with AHS broke down after 10 months when they finally tabled a monetary package that included an "offer" of 0, 0 and Cost of Living and failed to address the issues brought forward by the HSAA membership. Please show you support by joining them at the following locations:
- Edmonton: University of Alberta Hospital - 112th Street entrance
- Edmonton: Royal Alexandra Hospital - Kingsway Avenue
- Edmonton: Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital - 111th Avenue
- Calgary: Foothills Medical Centre - Main Entrance on 29th St. NW
- Calgary: Peter Lougheed Centre - 36th St. NE
- Red Deer: Red Deer Regional Hospital - 50A Ave
- Medicine Hat: Medicine Hat Regional Hospital - 5 St. SW
- Fort McMurray: Northern Lights Regional Health Centre - Hospital Street
- Grand Prairie: Queen Elizabeth II Hospital - 105 Ave
HSAA President Elisabeth Ballermann will be addressing the media from the University of Alberta Hospital picket.
For further information, visit http://www.hsaa.ca/home
- Attend the Calgary launch of Kevin Taft's Follow the Money - Ever wonder why Alberta's so rich, but our schools and hospitals seem to be so poor? MLA Kevin Taft has the answer in his new book, Follow the Money, and accompanying video documentary by award-winning producer Tom Radford. Join us for the Calgary launch of Follow the Money at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Memorial Park Library, 1221 2 Street S.W., Calgary. For details ... To view a clip from the documentary, click here ... For more information on the book ...
- February 24-25: Beyond Acute Care conference with Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow
- February 24-26: EDLC Annual Labour School
- March 8: International Women's Day
- March 21: International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- March 21-23: CUPE Alberta 62nd Annual Convention
- March 22: World Water Day
- April 3: International Day for Mine Awareness
- April 6: World Health Day
- April 21: Earth Day
- April 27: International Day of Mourning for workers who have been killed, suffer disease or injury as a result of work.
Expect cutbacks to the education system to be front-and-centre when a group calling for more money for education, health care, and other government services holds a public meeting in Edmonton Thursday night.
The 7pm meeting at Santa Maria Community Centre, at 11050 90th Street, marks the last one on a seven-city tour by Join Together Alberta. Public Interest Alberta, Alberta Federation of Labour, Friends of Medicare, and the Alberta Teachers' Association are among those taking part.
Both, Edmonton Public and Catholic School Boards are preparing to move forward with fewer teachers and other staff this fall, in an effort to balance their books. The public school board has already passed its budget, with cuts to 229 teaching positions. The Catholic board is forecasting 97 lost teaching positions, as it prepares to pass its budget next week.
iNews880am, Thurs Jun 23 2011
Fluctuating revenues lead to cuts when oil prices decline
In industries such as oil and gas, revenues can fluctuate, sometimes wildly, with the ebbs and flows of the market.
For a province such as Alberta, whose revenue is heavily based on the oil and gas industry, such fluctuations are a major problem because the need for that money doesn't fluctuate. The need to fund areas such as health care and education is constant.
It's for that reason that Public Interest Alberta is campaigning to push the province to fix a revenue system it says is broken.
The organization is touring the province, holding town hall meetings - including one in Lethbridge tonight at 7 p.m. at Southminster United Church - to let Albertans know the province does have options for generating revenue that could eliminate the need for cuts.
Public Interest Alberta points out the province still has about $10 billion in rainy-day savings in the Heritage Trust Fund. The organization also says Alberta - the only province still using a flat tax - would be better served by switching to a progressive tax system which could generate up to extra $2 billion in revenue.
Alberta also overspent by $900 million on its energy stimulus drilling program which provides subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
The extra money in government coffers would come in handy now with school districts facing the prospect of budget shortfalls for next term.
"It's obviously well know that there's $100 million that's been cut out of the education budget even though they're looking at an additional 6,000 children from K to 12 going into our system next year," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, which is helping to spearhead the "Join Together Alberta" campaign which demands Alberta change to a more consistent revenue model.
Moore-Kilgannon notes post-secondary institutions are also facing tough times because the zero per cent increase in their operating budgets the past two years effectively amounts to a cut because operating costs have risen.
He's right when he says the need for health care, education and care for seniors doesn't rise and fall with the price of oil, and that cuts made today ultimately wind up producing greater costs down the road. That doesn't include the social costs in terms of hardship for Albertans who rely on these services.
There's no need for Albertans to have to endure such hardship. We are fortunate to live in one of the "have" provinces; maintaining services essential to Albertans shouldn't be as difficult as it has become.
"Alberta is one of the wealthiest places in the world, blessed with an abundance of extremely valuable natural resources - and yet our government has manufactured a financial crisis that is likely to see 1,200 teachers laid off in the next few months and a still to be determined number of vital educational support staff," Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour and co-chair of the JTA campaign, said in a news release at the campaign's launch. "Our education system is experiencing the same kind of chaos that has been inflicted on our health-care system, and that pain is also being felt in post-secondary education and in social services struggling to help vulnerable Albertans."
A more sustainable revenue system could ease that pain.
Lethbridge Herald, Thurs Jun 16 2011
EDMONTON - After a day in which 326 Edmonton teaching positions were likely lost, school boards say they desperately need consistent funding.
Both Edmonton school boards passed versions of their budgets Tuesday that include severe cuts. Now, boards across Alberta say they need five years of sustained funding to escape the roller-coaster of finances that stunts long-term planning.
"It's critically important that the government provide predictable and sustained funding," said public board chair Dave Colburn. "We absolutely have to find a new funding model."
Debbie Engel, chair of the Catholic board, agreed with Colburn that five years of predictable funding would be ideal. "With three years, we could do a good job of planning for the future, but could do a better job with five."
Jacquie Hansen, president of the Alberta School Boards Association, said schools are at the mercy of oil prices and a boom-and-bust economy. The last few years of recession have been particularly bad. New programs fail because funding is pulled after the first year.
Hansen said a five-year plan, similar to funding for Alberta Health Services, would make education "more than a line item in the budget."
Tuesday night, the public board passed a budget that Colburn called "heartbreaking."
Within the $851 million budget, 345 full-time jobs will be cut, including 229 teaching positions.
The budget will use $21.5 million in reserve funding, which leaves no surplus for the public board by the time the next school year ends.
In 2009, the board's surplus fund, used for any unpredictable expenses in a school year, was $52 million. Now it's gone.
"The trend over the past three years has been disturbing," Colburn said. "It raises serious questions about the adequacy of funding from the province."
The budget signals a loss of nearly any flexibility as principals become teachers and lose time for professional development.
All 62 school boards in Alberta are reporting a net loss this year, Hansen said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Edmonton Catholic board passed a draft budget that will cost it 97 teaching positions in the next school year, as well as 63 support staff and 24 custodial positions.
Currently, the Catholic district has 1,848 full-time teaching positions. The public district has roughly 4,000.
Earlier this year, the province increased the overall education budget, but only enough to cover the promised 4.5-per-cent wage increase for teachers. It cut back many of its other programs, particularly the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement and English Language Learning program.
That led to a $9.6-million shortfall for the Catholic board. Its draft budget reflects a $1.8-million operating deficit, which leaves the district with a surplus of $2.4 million, half of what the surplus was three years ago.
Both boards have said class sizes will be affected because they have a growing number of students and fewer teachers.
Education Minister Dave Hancock said the potential number of teachers cut was higher than he expected, but he was "not overly" concerned.
Hancock said changes in class sizes will likely not affect education.
While Colburn agrees there are differing views on how class sizes affect education, he said the number of students per teacher is always a priority concern for parents.
The Catholic board's draft budget, which is scheduled for an approval vote on June 28, is $353 million.
Decisions about which schools will lose teachers won't be made until enrolment numbers are known in the fall.
The Alberta Federation of Labour and other groups held a town-hall meeting in Calgary Wednesday night to address public sector cuts, especially cuts to education. A similar meeting will be held in Edmonton on June 23.
Edmonton Journal, Wed Jun 15 2011
Byline: Ryan Cormier
With 331 jobs set to be lost in Calgary's public schools alone, Join Together Alberta (JTA) is holding a town hall meeting tonight in Calgary to challenge cuts to education, health care, and other vital public services, and to address the real issue: Alberta's broken taxation and royalty system.
"The Calgary Board of Education is losing 172 teaching positions, the Calgary Catholic Board is losing 90 positions and across the province 1200 teaching positions are being cut," says Alberta Teachers' Association President Carol Henderson. "Our schools are being short-changed by over $100 million and our schools cannot handle those types of reductions. Class sizes are increasing, special needs students are losing their supports and our immigrant and refugee students are falling through the cracks."
"Alberta is one of the wealthiest places in the world, blessed with an abundance of extremely valuable natural resources – and yet our government has manufactured a financial crisis that is causing massive layoffs in our schools," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers and co-chair of the JTA campaign. "Our education system is experiencing the same kind of chaos that has been inflicted on our health-care system, and that pain is also being felt in post-secondary education and in social services struggling to help vulnerable Albertans."
"Cuts to public services are not necessary at this time," says Diana Gibson of the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute, "the Alberta government is giving away billions in needless tax cuts."
"Join Together Alberta is touring the province, mobilizing people from various public service sectors and citizens across Alberta who care deeply about the fabric of our communities. Albertans know that our public services and communities are worth fighting for, and this campaign is going to help make that loud and clear to all political parties," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta and co-chair of JTA.
"Today's cuts to education will be felt for generations. In health care, we need excellence in education from early childhood to post secondary levels. These building blocks are crucial in developing the highly skilled health professionals we depend on. But not only is it important to health care, it is important for all sectors of society, for all our children, and all our citizens," says Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.
Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Location: Parkdale United Church, Conference Room, 2919 8th Avenue NW, Calgary
Panel Speakers and Media Spokespeople:
- Gil McGowan – President, Alberta Federation of Labour
- Bill Moore-Kilgannon – Executive Director, Public Interest Alberta
- Diana Gibson – Research Director, Parkland Institute
- Elisabeth Ballermann – President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
- Carol Henderson – President, Alberta Teachers' Association
Please direct media inquiries to:
- Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour, 780-218-9888
- Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Public Interest Alberta, 780-993-3736