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Edmonton Over 100 employees at the Misericordia Hospital, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2111 took their lunch hour today to speak out for public health care.

The CUPE members are currently in bargaining for a new collective agreement with the Capital Health Authority and staged the demonstration to shed light on the impact poor working conditions and low wages are having on patient care.

The system is breaking down because we are constantly short-staffed, said CUPE Local 2111 president Peggy Morton. If anyone has any doubt about the importance of support staff to patient care they just need to take a good look at what is happening inside this hospital, she said.

CUPE 2111 is pushing for better wages and benefits along with improvements to short term disability and family leave provisions. The bargaining demands are aimed at improving recruitment and retention of support staff workers and to ease the serious workload issues of the staff in housekeeping, food services, maintenance and administration. While bargaining began last spring, the parties have yet to come to an agreement on any of the issues at the table.

With increasing threats to our public health care system, collective bargaining is the first line of defense to protect patients, improve the quality of care and ensure that services are there for the people who need them, said Morton. We are here today to stand up for hospital workers and for our public health care system, she added.

The demonstrators were passing out information to the general public outside the hospital illustrating the impact staff shortages can have on patient care. Imagine a trip to the hospital without clean rooms, sterile instruments, faulty plumbing and no one to take patient information, retrieve records or schedule procedures. While many think of doctors and nurses when they think of health care providers, the work that these people do is critical to care, said Morton.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and now casinos. Visit our CUPE website for more information cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information:
Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications,
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)