AFL demands action to keep people safe in ALL Alberta workplaces, not just the Legislature
EDMONTON – The president of Alberta’s largest worker advocacy group, the Alberta Federation of Labour, has released a statement accusing Premier Jason Kenney of hypocrisy and cowardice. The statement goes on to say that Kenney’s continued inaction on the mounting COVID crisis means it’s time for Albertans to consider taking matters into their own hands.
“Jason Kenney has closed down the Legislature because he says the third wave of COVID has made it too dangerous for MLAs to work there,” says AFL president Gil McGowan. “But, at the same time, he has no problem with allowing millions of other Albertans to continue going to work without extra precautions.
“While UCP MLAs work safely from their homes; teachers, educational assistants, grocery store workers, oil sands workers and many, many others will still be expected to show up for work – many without being eligible for vaccines and many without access to paid sick leave. This is the opposite of leadership. It’s hypocrisy. And it’s cowardice.”
McGowan says that if Kenney doesn’t know what to do in the face of the Third Wave, the Alberta labour movement can tell him.
“In consultation with doctors, epidemiologists, engineers and indoor air quality specialists, we’ve developed a 10-point plan to keep Albertans safe at work and help end the Third Wave of the pandemic,” says McGowan.
“Our plan starts with recognizing that COVID is a serious occupational hazard and that it is being spread in Alberta workplaces – something Premier Kenney continues to go to great lengths to deny. Our plan continues by demanding that the Alberta government embrace the kind of zero COVID strategies that have been so effective in Atlantic Canada.
“Our plan also says we should temporarily shut down all workplaces that experience outbreaks; introduce tough, enforceable standards for PPE and ventilation for all indoor workplaces; and introduce mandatory paid sick leave so people can actually stay home when they’re sick.
“Finally, and perhaps most simply, we need to pay non-essential workers to stay home and non-essential businesses to stay closed, for the time it takes to bring cases down to close to zero.”
McGowan says “it’s time for the Premier to stop hiding in his mother’s basement, the Sky Palace, or wherever he goes when the Legislature is not in session. It’s time for him to acknowledge that his policies have failed, that his gamble that vaccines could beat the variants hasn’t paid off, and that things are getting really bad.”
McGowan concluded by saying that he will begin discussion with unions, workers and other concerned Albertans about some kind of coordinated action to pressure Kenney to implement the measures recommended by the AFL and public health experts.
“Alberta now has more daily COVID cases than any other province in Canada and more than any state in the United States, as well. And our hospitals are only days away from being overwhelmed,” says McGowan. “We simply cannot allow Premier Kenney to continue gambling with our lives.”
Director of Communications, AFL