Why Alberta Hospital Workers Are On Strike And Everything Else You Should Know

Mel Woods
·2 min read
Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton on Oct. 26, 2020.
Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton on Oct. 26, 2020.

Hundreds of Alberta hospital workers walked off the job Monday morning in response to ongoing budget cuts from Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government.

The wildcat strike — meaning it wasn’t planned or organized by the union — is the largest such action in decades, with walkouts reported at two dozen or more hospitals around the province as of Monday afternoon.

Workers say they’re protesting the planned 11,000 health-care job cuts by the Kenney government, while Alberta Health Services has called the strike illegal and called on the labour board to step in.

Here’s what you need to know.

Who is on strike?

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) at over two dozen hospitals and health-care centres across the province walked off the job.

According to AUPE vice-president Susan Slade, “several hundred” workers are on strike.

Most of the workers are general support service workers including food service workers, cleaners, porters, clerical staff and maintenance workers. Some licensed practical nurses and health-care aides have also joined the picket lines.

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton on Oct. 26, 2020.
Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton on Oct. 26, 2020.

In a statement Monday, the United Nurses of Alberta, the union representing registered nurses, said their workers can and will join the picket line in solidarity with striking employees.

“UNA supports the health care workers who are defending the principle of public health care and opposing the efforts of the Kenney Government to undermine the public health care system and destroy thousands of jobs,” the statement read.

AUPE represents over 60,000 health-care workers in Alberta, including health-care aides, custodial staff, licensed practical nurses and kitchen staff.

Why are Alberta health-care workers on strike?

The strike is a response to building tensions between health-care workers and Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government. Earlier this month, the government announced plans to slash and outsource up to 11,000 health-care jobs, largely affecting general...

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