On Monday, October 26, thousands of health care workers, members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) went on a wildcat strike in Edmonton, Calgary, and other municipalities in the province.
They were proudly joined in solidarity by workers from many other unions in that province, including members of CUPE Alberta from health care, social services, municipalities, and all the sectors.
But it wasn’t only other unions who joined them. Everyday folks, doctors from inside hospitals, neighbours and family members: all came to picket lines that grew through the day across Alberta, as people stood together against the actions of Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party.
These front-line heroes were forced to take this drastic action by a government which seeks to privatize their jobs as a cost-savings measure during a global health crisis. This is the same government that continues to fail to address the chronic staffing shortage in their workplaces, and the very real health care needs of Albertans.
On behalf of the 280,000 members of CUPE Ontario, we wholeheartedly support this important and militant action.
This decision by primarily support service staff – food service staff, cleaners, porters, clerical staff, and maintenance workers – follows the October 13 announcement by Alberta’s Health Minister that they plan to cut 11,000 healthcare jobs by outsourcing them, moving public sector jobs into the private sector.
Instead of bolstering the public health care system with dedicated funding during a global pandemic, the Kenney government just threatened further cuts – cuts that will weaken the capacity of health care workers to deliver the services people need, more than ever.
It’s indefensible – period. We congratulate workers for so powerfully demonstrating their opposition. Because here in Ontario, while there are differences in the matter of degree and speed, we’re fighting similar measures. We know what cuts do to the services we rely on. We know that they’re especially devastating during a pandemic. CUPE Members in Ontario know what Alberta’s health care workers are going through.
Enough is Enough. No more cuts. No more profits at the expense of people. And no more layoffs of front-line heroes. It’s time to draw a line in the sand, to begin the mobilization in earnest to fight back, and to fight FOR our services, our communities, our futures.
Today, let’s join with allies across the country in sending all workers in Alberta a strong message of solidarity. What Alberta Healthcare Workers are doing is an inspiration to us all; to every movement fighting right-wing conservative governments from coast to coast to coast. Their fight is our fight.
Fred Hahn, President
Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer