Rallies across Alberta bemoan UCP’s move toward privatization

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) Central District Board Member DJ McMillan says what is happening is the erosion and commodification of the health care system. health.

“We’re at the point where access to health care is becoming an issue, especially in rural Alberta. We see it with the privatization of labs, people can’t do blood work in some rural towns, and even here in Red Deer blood work is sent to Calgary or Edmonton. Meanwhile, surgeries are being postponed or diverted, and with EMS the workload is increased due to all the transfers of patients out of the region to major cities for services they should be able to get here,” remarked McMillan.

“If we continue down the privatization slope, it will only get worse. We need to properly fund our public health care system and ensure universal access for all Albertans is assured.

The HSAA represents approximately 29,000 health care workers across Alberta, including approximately 3,000 in Alberta’s Central Health Services Area.

McMillan pointed out that these workers are feeling burnout right now.

“We are seeing with COVID, the opioid crisis and with privatization, healthcare workers are burnt out. They struggle to keep this system afloat, but they also come to work because they love this industry. They want to make sure their family and ours are taken care of. They enjoy the career, but are pushed to the brink of failure.

Dr. Kym Jim, who was do not at Saturday’s rally, is the spokesperson for the Society for Healthcare Expansion for Central Alberta (SHECA). Jim spoke to rdnewsNOW earlier this week on the continued pressures on hospital staff and how workers are unable to maintain a good work/life balance.

He said doctors were already aware of various service disruptions occurring over the summer at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.

“Our main concerns are about patient care, because what is very distressing about all of this is that we know we are not serving the population as we should or could,” he said. “What’s really needed is a task force to provide support services to physicians in Red Deer, which physicians in Calgary and Edmonton already have.

Jim asks the question: “What happens when people are looking for a job and they see that they could accept a job where they will be on call once every 15 nights, compared to a job in Red Deer where is it once every five nights? Imagine the job you will choose. This is the difficulty we encounter with our recruitment.

AHS did not deny Jim’s claim that future disruptions are coming, but stressed that it was a last resort.

“Efforts include the continued recruitment and retention of not only physicians and staff, but also increasing the support available from professionals such as clinical assistants and physician assistants,” AHS said in a series of responses. to questions from rdnewsNOW.

“Working understaffed is not ideal for anyone. We have worked and will continue to work to minimize the impact of these challenges to ensure patient care is not interrupted and our staff enjoy safe and healthy working conditions. AHS is extremely grateful and appreciative of the incredible efforts the physicians and staff have made and continue to make in their dedication to patients and each other.

AHS confirms that they are currently recruiting for three clinical assistant positions in general surgery, with interviews this week, as well as three clinical assistants for doctors of anesthesia, cardiology and general internal medicine, with additional doctors wanted for emergency services.

“Our message is that health care is essential for communities like Red Deer. We represent people in jobs that aren’t the best paying. Some earn little more than minimum wage, and the Kenney government, in the meantime, is considering privatizing roles in many of these disciplines,” said Jason Heistad, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) .

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“As for being heard, we can do a lot more by working with the public, but no, I don’t think this government has heard people. We have seen what can happen when people talk with the diabetes issue this week. It comes down to the economics of what utilities provide to communities. These workers went to work, performed excellent service to the public during a global pandemic, and the government ignored the importance of their role. It’s just ideology and that’s a shame. There are elections coming up. »

The AUPE represents approximately 6,000 workers in the Center Zone.

Edmonton-Riverview MPP Lori Sigurdson, former NDP Minister of Seniors and Housing, attended the rally in Red Deer.

“We just want the UCP to play well with health care. The UCP has been attacking professionals since their election. They tore up the contract with the doctors, threatened to cut the salaries of health care workers and people are disillusioned, ”said Sigurdson.

“For people here, it’s important that they email or phone their MPs, especially the two UCP MPs here in Red Deer, and let them know about their concerns about public health care.

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