Wage cuts insult ‘pandemic heroes’ and will worsen the already serious nurses’ shortage
Edmonton - The UCP’s plan to cut the wages of Alberta nurses despite their dedicated service during the pandemic is uncalled for and profoundly disrespectful.
But it’s not surprising considering who the proposal is coming from, says the new Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, who also happens to be a Registered Nurse with nearly three decades of front-line experience in the Alberta health care system.
“Since becoming a registered nurse in 1993, I have witnessed continued and sustained attacks on publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare in Alberta,” says Karen Kuprys.
“Registered nurses are integral members of the heath care team to ensure the safe delivery of care. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, registered nurses have continued to be there for Albertans. Now, a year and a half later, nurses are exhausted both physically and mentally. Many of us have been pushed to our limits. The disrespect from the UCP government is appalling. After nurses have given more than they ever thought possible, this is how the Kenney government see fit to thank us? Our efforts and sacrifice have gone unappreciated at the bargaining table.”
“The rollbacks and potential layoffs proposed at the negotiating table is at best, insulting. At worst, it is reckless,” continues Kuprys. “This isn’t a new strategy. We have felt the long-lasting damaging effects from the legacy of the Klein government. The damage it causes takes decades to recover from. We know that women have not recovered economically post-Covid at the same rate as men. Nursing is still a female dominated profession so the proposal to reduce compensation for nurses, is also an equality issue.”
Kuprys goes on to say that “treating exhausted and frustrated nurses in this manner will result in worsening shortages, increased wait times and difficulty attracting and retaining future nurses.”
Kuprys says this all appears to be part of a plan to undermine public services to justify an ideological push to privatize public services. Since taking power, the Kenney UCP government has made cuts to Albertans’ health care, education and social programs and has undermined Alberta’s economic stability. This government has mismanaged at least $1.3 billion and put corporate interests above Albertans’ health and welfare with tax cuts and loopholes for the rich and funding cuts for working Albertans, including cruel cuts to the most vulnerable even during a pandemic.
All the while, the UCP government is using the faulty arguments made in the MacKinnon Panel report to tell Albertans that our nurses and other health care professionals’ salaries are “outliers” but that’s simply not true when you look at the total wage bill by population.
The bottom line is this: Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP government want to radically reshape Alberta. They want to privatize public services. In fact, the members attending a recent UCP policy convention voted to privatize public health care, and it appears that they are determined to do it cruelly and recklessly, without regard for nurses’ wellbeing or health and welfare of Albertans.
Director of Communications, AFL
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