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Prince Albert:  The Canadian Union of Public Employees is holding a vote this week to find out what special care aides working in three long-term care facilities think about the Prince Albert Parkland health region’s plan to change their hours of work.



Earlier this month, the health region notified CUPE it plans to change the hours of work for about 200 special care aides in Herb Bassett Home, Mont St. Joseph Home and Pineview Terrace Lodge in Prince Albert from 12 hour shifts to eight hour shifts on September 20.



However, the health region wants to make the changes without consulting the special care aides – a move the union says is unacceptable. “Any change to shift work has an enormous impact on our members work lives – and home lives,” says Carol McKnight, President of CUPE 4777. “Staff must be consulted.”



To get membership input on the issue, the union is holding a vote this week for the 200 affected special care aides. The vote by secret ballot starts today in the union’s office and concludes on Thursday.



Although the health region indicated the changes were being made to improve care and reduce employees’ injury rates, McKnight says there are better ways to achieve these goals. Chief among them is the need for improved staffing levels. “The primary concern of our members is not the length of the shift – it’s the fact that on every shift they’re working short-staffed,” she says.



She says most CUPE health care providers want the longer shifts because it gives them more days off in the shift rotation. “It’s a huge recruitment and retention issue,” she says. “Any time a job is posted with a 12 hour shift, there is a long list of applicants. But jobs with eight hour shifts are hard to fill.”




The union will announce the results of the vote at a media scrum on Friday, April 24, at 10 a.m. at the CUPE health care office, 579 28th Street West in Prince Albert.



CUPE Local 4777 represents about 1,700 special care aides and other health care providers across the health region.



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For more information contact Carol McKnight at 691-1994