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EDMONTON - A union representing 3,000 employees working in Alberta nursing homes is calling on the provincial government to adopt a bill of rights for residents of long-term care facilities.

D’Arcy Lanovaz, the President of CUPE Alberta, says the idea comes from Manitoba and Ontario, where provincial governments have enacted similar legislation.

“A bill of rights for nursing home residents would revoke the licence of operators who do not meet standards for care, personal attention, and privacy rights,” said Lanovaz. “It would ensure that standards are open and transparent, and most importantly - that those standards are followed.”

Lanovaz said the legislation could include provisions about staffing levels, food quality, and cleaning procedures. The CUPE President says families and staff need a process to complain about shoddy care.

“What’s important here is that we give residents and their families the right to a certain level of care, and access to a way to lodge complaints,” said Lanovaz. “And as part of that, there should be whistleblower protection for staff, so they can lodge complaints without fear of losing their jobs.”

Lanovaz said the current system gives residents only one option - moving. “That’s not acceptable, particularly in small communities with only one facility. We have to do better than simply letting the market dictate standards of care for seniors.”

According to Lanovaz, CUPE members working in long-term care facilities are complaining loudly about under funding and poor management of the facilities.

“Seniors deserve better, and a resident’s bill of rights would be a big step in the right direction.”

Lanovaz said CUPE would be bringing the matter to the Alberta Federation of Labour Convention later this week in the form of an emergency resolution.