Approximately 60 people attended an Information Rally held by the local 55 United Nurses of Alberta in front of the Vermilion Health Centre and Midtown Medical Clinic on February 13.
Members of unions present included the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Alberta Provincial Union of Employees (AUPE), Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA), EMS attendants, fire department members, and community members. According to Megan Steiner, the rally was held to raise concerns about the Alberta Government’s decision to lay off hundreds of nurses across Alberta and the impact that it would have on safe patient care. She feels that eliminating nursing jobs contradicts all evidence of the best way to run a safe and effective health care system.
Megan Steiner, Vermilion/Mannville area president of the 55 United Nurses of Alberta said, “We support public health care, public education, and all of the public services we currently benefit from. Privatization has been shown to result in sub-par patient care due to the profit-driven motives of upper management. Privatization will not decrease wait times but only leech workers from the public system and create a two-tier system.
Our concerns lie within the patient outcomes of the Vermilion Hospital. If our ER department became an ‘urgent care’ centre that was no longer open 24 hours a day, how would this affect our community? A five-year-old child with an acute asthma attack may not have as positive an outcome with an extra 45 minutes tacked onto their travel time. If patient-staff ratios were to change or the complement of staffing changes, this has been shown to increase patient mortality and increase the length of hospital stays, both which increase healthcare spending, not decrease.”
Healthcare workers weren’t the only ones raising concerns. Community member Jan Scott said, “I want Albertans to wake up and understand what is really happening in our province:
The Alberta public sector is the lowest in the country as a proportion of our economy.
Alberta has the lowest levels of debt in the country even with the collapse in the oil prices.
Alberta public servants are not overpaid.
Public sector wages are not higher than private sector wages.
UCP says the deficit was caused by overspending however it was caused by a structural over reliance on natural resource revenue.
Alberta is currently the lowest tax province in Canada.
Please look up these facts and wake up to what really is going on. The UCP has currently made the following changes:
The UCP changed the management of LAPP to AIMCo. UCP mandated that Alberta Pensions Services Corporation cannot replace AIMCo. if circumstances warrant it.
With budget cuts to higher education I question why four out of the five Christian universities were not cut but 26 universities budgets were slashed.
The UCP sacked public board members before their terms were finished and replaced them mostly with Oil and Gas executives. Before board members’ positions were replaced when their term was finished an active recruitment process should have taken place.
UCP took the cap off some Auto Insurances.
UCP took the Cap off Dental costs.
UCP cut budgets to Municipalities downloading services.
UCP froze AISH funding.
UCP eliminated classroom grants and froze the Education budget.
UCP laid off highly trained Forest Fire fighters.
UCP removed the regulated rate option price cap for gas and electricity.
The UCP is bringing in performance based funding (this type of funding fails to take in many socioeconomic factors).
UCP fired the Elections Commissioner (to save money) but is now raising the salary of the elections CEO.
Now UCP are aiming for Health Care cuts. As Albertans enough is enough; we must stand together and not allow this unreasonable austerity program to continue.”
Overall, rally participants were happy to inform passersby of their concerns and increase awareness about what they feel will be detrimental changes to the health care system.