More homecare staff pushed aside by AHS

Strathmore Lodge staff to lose wages and pension plan

CALGARY – Staff providing home care services at Strathmore Lodge have been given termination notices after Alberta Health Services (AHS) decided to contract the service to Bayshore Home Health, a for-profit health care provider.

Strathmore Lodge is a facility in Strathmore Alberta run by Wheatland Housing, a not-for-profit agency. The lodge provides both long term care and assisted living services.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents employees at the Lodge. Of those employees, fourteen deliver home care services. All fourteen staff members were given termination notices last Tuesday.

Employees have been told they can work for Bayshore, but at a lower rate of pay, fewer benefits, and they will no longer belong to their pension plan.

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts predicts service levels will suffer under a private contractor.

“When you cut wages and benefits in an industry that is already underpaid, you increase turnover and lower the level of expertise at the facility,” said Roberts.

“In 2005, the Auditor General raised the alarm about low wages in this industry,” said Roberts. “Clearly, the Redford government hasn’t yet gotten the message.

Roberts called on the Redford government to ‘push the pause’ button on home care changes, and consult with residents and providers about the best way to deliver the service.

“If you ask the people who receive the service, and the people who deliver it, they will all tell you that shoving aside small not-for-profit organizations for the big corporate model is a bad way to deliver care.”

Roberts said home care providers in other facilities across the province are facing layoffs as well. CUPE issued a release yesterday about an Edmonton co-op for disabled residents forced to give up management of their own care.

Contact: Lou Arab, Communications Representative