'The heart of health care': Rallies in support of nurses ahead of Valentine's Day
EDMONTON -- Nurses and health care workers asked the province to "show Alberta's nurses a little love" for Valentine's Day.
Members of the United Nurses of Alberta and their supporters are participating in information walks across Alberta on Thursday.
The union that represents 30,000 registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and allied workers is concerned about government cuts to health care, including eliminating nursing jobs.
"We want people to recognize that health care workers, such as nurses, AUPE ... are all supportive members of the community and cutting funding undermines Albertans altogether," Ijabo Mohamud with United Nurses of Alberta said. "We're finding that cuts to the public sector are most likely going to undermine the care that we can provide.
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, Alberta Health press secretary Steve Buick said "reducing costs does not mean reducing care."
"We have great respect for the work Alberta nurses do ... Alberta has much higher costs than other provinces where quality is just as good, and wait times are shorter."
NDP health critic David Shepherd joined the rally at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
"We are not going to provide better quality of care by attacking the very people who provide that care and indeed are here protesting today because they care about the patients they're looking after," Shepherd said. The events aim "to remind Albertans that nurses and health care workers are the heart of health care, and tell Jason Kenney not to cut the heart out of health care."
When contract negotiations for a new agreement with Alberta Health Services began in January, the UNA said the government was demanding a four-year wage freeze and rollbacks of overtime and premiums.
A review of health care delivery that was released on Feb. 2 found that the province could save up to $2 billion a year by changing work and pay rules for nurses and doctors and outsourcing support services to the private sector.
Health care workers say the quality of care will suffer if the changes are implemented.
UNA members are participating on their non-work time or on breaks.
- Bow Island
- Drayton Valley
- Fort McMurray
- High River
- Lac La Biche
- Medicine Hat
- Peace River
- Red Deer
- St. Albert
- Spirit River
- Stony Plain