AHS unfairly using temporary foreign workers during AUPE contact negotiations

Calgary, AB (January 30, 2015): Alberta Liberal Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Critic David Swann says AHS must return to the bargaining table with AUPE to negotiate the General Support Services staff contract.

“The work these frontline staff perform is critical to the operations of AHS,” says Swann. “They deserve respect and to be treated fairly by the organization that relies on them to keep the health system running safely and efficiently.”

A two-day meeting between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) scheduled last Monday to negotiate the General Support Services (GSS) staff contract was cut short after AHS pulled their offer and proposed to freeze pay instead. The initial deal would have seen a one percent increase a year for the next three years and a market adjustment for pharmacy assistants.

General Support Service positions include housekeepers, surgical processors, lab assistants, plumbers, electricians, maintenance, administrative, porters, service workers, pharmacy assistants and transcriptions. Average weekly earnings of GSS staff is $547 while Alberta’s average weekly earnings is $1108.

AUPE recently was informed by AHS that it had already employed 250 temporary foreign workers to fill its hiring gap since the start of this year.

“It is just plain wrong for AHS to use temporary foreign workers to supress staff wages and to strong arm contract negotiations,” says Swann. “A zero percent increase is essentially a 6 percent pay cut over three years due to inflation.

“AHS needs to return to the bargaining table in good faith.”

AUPE has filed a bargaining in bad faith complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board. In addition, the union has requested interest arbitration to determine what is fair and competitive for this collective agreement.


Government needs to take responsibility and provide proper funding to continuing care centres

CALGARY, AB (January 28, 2015): Dr.David Swann says more oversight and funding for continuing care centres is needed.

Staffing shortages and poor funding for continuing care centres was highlighted by the release of a hidden camera video showing an elderly women being pulled from her bed and dragged by the arm across the floor by a male at the Kipnes Centre for Veterans.

According to media, the reports filed by staff at the Kipnes Centre indicated she fell out of bed with no mention of the other patient’s involvement. Staff at the facility say they found the women outside her room with the other patient nearby however, did not see him physically with the patient.

“There is a chronic lack of funding for the care of our seniors,” says Swann. “These continuing care homes are already stretched for resources, and they need more staff in order to provide the level of care residents and families expect.

“Many seniors are being left vulnerable in the very places their families are depending on to protect them from this kind of neglect and abuse.”

This incident isn’t the first we’ve seen of improper management of patients in care facilities. The Fanning Centre in Calgary is currently being reviewed by the Patient Advocate after reports of inadequate hygiene provided to its patients.

“This issue has gone on far too long,” says Swann. “No one should have to suffer like this in Alberta. It is morally repugnant. Our seniors and vulnerable populations deserve to be safe in their own homes and the province’s care facilities.”

Swann says seniors centres need to have the capacity to identify patients that are at a risk of hurting themselves or other residents, and to have the capacity to transfer high-risk patients into more secure areas or to different facilities. He would like to see a study into patient-caused injuries due to inappropriately place residents. The study would need to review the occurrences of these injuries, the number of high-risk residents, which facilities have and follow policies on patient-caused injuries, including recommendation on reduce the number of incidents.

“It is time for this government to show it cares about the plight of elderly Albertans by expecting higher standards, stepping up monitoring, and increasing funding for more staff.”


Personal Statement from Dr. David Swann regarding Sunday’s shooting of David McQueen

Calgary, AB (January 25, 2016): Dr. David Swann has issued a personal statement regarding Sunday’s shooting of David McQueen in Calgary.

“Mental Health issues affect thousands of people in Alberta. It affects their family, their friends, their neighbours and their communities. Sunday’s tragedy in Calgary is a sad example, one with a personal connection to me.

David McQueen reached out frequently to my constituency office, as well as others here in Calgary. He was suffering from an obvious, and serious, mental illness and it was often difficult to understand where he was coming from or how we could help. He was always polite, though he was certainly agitated and paranoid of all government. David was also angry. Angry with the injury which all but paralyzed him, angry with a system he felt failed him, and angry with those who represented that system.

This past year, as the author of the soon to be released Alberta Report on Mental Health and Addiction, I have heard many stories like David’s. Very, very few of these individuals will ever wind up in a situation where they hurt others, but Alberta has now seen several incidents involving people suffering from mental health problems. There has to be real change, and soon.

My thoughts and condolences go out to David McQueen’s family and friends, and to those police officers involved in the tragedy. My thoughts are also with those, like my staff, who interacted with Mr. McQueen and are left, today, feeling they could have done more.

Armed with knowledge and compassion, I know our society can do better.”