“We’ve run out of staff. Kenney’s fourth wave is collapsing the system.” - Rory Gill, President, CUPE Alberta
The leaders of Alberta’s largest health care unions are calling on Premier Jason Kenney to ask the federal government to immediately deploy the military, the Red Cross and all other available medical resources from across the country to assist the province’s overwhelmed hospitals.
Taken together, the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and CUPE Alberta, represent more than 100,000 people working in Alberta’s health care system.
The presidents of all four unions say Alberta’s health care system is not just “on the verge” of collapse – they say it’s actually collapsing right in front of our eyes.
With that in mind, UNA President Heather Smith, AUPE President Guy Smith, HSAA President Mike Parker, CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) President Gil McGowan have sent a joint letter to Premier Kenney asking him to formally request help from the federal government.
There are recent precedents set for this kind of action. Just five months ago, in April 2021, three military medical units were deployed to support long term care facilities in Ontario as they were overwhelmed by the third wave of the pandemic. The federal government also paid for the Red Cross to be deployed and helped coordinate assistance from other provinces.
The letter says, “There are no more nurses in our province who can be deployed. There are no more paramedics. There are no more respiratory therapists. There are no more support staff. The tank is empty. The well is dry.” It concludes by reminding Premier Kenney of his constitutional responsibility as Premier to formally ask the federal government for assistance.
“They cannot act unless you ask them to act. So please, on behalf of our beleaguered members on the front-line of this crisis, and on behalf of all Albertans, we are officially asking you to request help from the federal government.”