'Heroes to zeroes': Nurses picket against proposed wage cuts

·2 min read

n Aug. 11, the United Nurses of Alberta had about 30 information pickets across the province of Alberta, including one in Jasper.

At the local fireball, the Jasper Local 75 nurses gathered with the support of their fellow union leaders from Health Sciences Association of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees inform the public of the staffing crisis and to send a message to the UCP government.

Alberta currently does not have enough nurses to provide the care that Albertans need, and beds are closing in many facilities across the province due to the lack of staff.

Many of the nurses are also burnt out due to the challenges of the pandemic.

Despite the long hours and the challenges that nurses face, the government is pushing to rollback wages, which protesters say will jeopardize patient care and further privatize the health-care system.

“We were praised as heroes during the pandemic, and now we seem dispensable,” said Rachel Gaudry, president of United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) Local 75.

“We want safe working conditions and to provide safe care for our patients.”

Many of the UNA Local 75 members picketed together, including housekeepers, maintenance, kitchen staff and the nurses. They even had kids and various family members among the group.

“We wanted to grab people’s attention and I believe we did that successfully,” Gaudry said.

Everywhere they walked, they were greeted with claps from the people on the streets and honks from passing cars.

The pickets were to express to the public and the government how damaging the cuts and rollbacks would be and to make people aware of the tensions between the UCP government and healthcare workers.

“We have a great team at Seton-Jasper Healthcare Centre and I’m really proud of all of us coming together,” Gaudry said.

She added that the UNA Local 75 and all other pickets sent a strong message to the Government of Alberta that they are committed to the public systems.

Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

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