Nurses and healthcare workers were outside Chinook Regional Hospital on Wednesday holding a ‘Day of Action’ information picket and protesting in solidarity in response to the recent wage cuts announced by the Alberta Government.
Rallies were held at hospitals throughout Alberta on Wednesday as thousands of nurses and healthcare staff gathered to protest a proposed 3 per cent wage rollback.
The United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) has been in talks with Alberta’s UCP government since July, trying to negotiate a new collective agreement.
UNA Local 120 president and registered nurse, Margie Emes, says almost everyone in the healthcare system is demoralized by the wage cuts.
There are roughly 30,000 nurses locked in the bargaining dispute. Emes says they are currently seeing a shortage of staff at Chinook Regional Hospital, and with the new wage cuts, she says it’s only going to discourage people from entering the industry.
NDP Opposition Finance Critic and Lethbridge-West MLA, Shannon Phillips, says the announcement of any wage cuts in Alberta is simply a disconnect between the UCP and Albertans.
In a statement from Minister of Finance Travis Toews reads in part, “We are facing a $93 billion in debt, and we spend more than half of the province’s operating budget on public sector compensation.” It goes on to say… “Our government is also committed to standing up for the health care system, and representing the best interests of all Albertans.”
The province has said that on average, Alberta’s nurses are paid 5.6 per cent more than in comparable provinces, but Emes says Albertans make overall 15 per cent more than other Canadians do.
The UNA said the two sides met on Tuesday and will return to the bargaining table on Friday.