Thursday , 9 July 2020
These women rallied outside of the Bonnyville Health Centre on Thursday in opposition to proposed government changes to health care.

Nurses rally outside of Bonnyville hospital to counter government changes

The rally outside of the Bonnyville Health Centre on Thursday in opposition to proposed government changes to health care. 

Bonnyville-area nurses rallied outside of the Bonnyville Health Centre on Thursday to voice their concerns about provincial plans to change the way health care is done in the province.

The local United Nurses of Alberta chapter held the rally in fears that cuts to frontline services, nurses wages, and an increasing appetite to privatize wings of AHS from the provincial government will worsen health care especially in rural areas.

The government has proposed another four years of wage freezes. But nurses are not going to the public because of wages. It’s to protect the healthcare system and have a better staffing ratio for patients, decreasing the workload,” said Christina Dietrich, rally organizer.

“They’re trying to take our days of rest away so the employer can call us whenever they feel like it. They want to decrease the overtime, but we say hire more nurses if you want to increase the overtime.”

Richell Brousseau echoed similar sentiments while joining the rally.

She worries about government rollbacks and increasing privatization.

“We’re saying no to losing jobs, we’re saying no to the rollbacks, and we are saying no to privatization. They’re looking at closing down rural labor and delivery units. They’re looking at closing and seizing all elective surgeries and having patients pay that out of pocket for care that they need. And they’re also looking at making this a market for privatization and we’re just not standing for that.”

Across Alberta on Thursday, UNA rallied against some of the proposed UCP changes in recent weeks, which has made critics suggest a strike could be coming.

“Strike is the last thing we want. We want to be able to be on the floor caring for our patients. But if that care is going to come at the cost of our patients not being cared for properly or effectively or safely, of course, we’ll strike. We’re here for our community and its members,” said Brousseau.

The provincial government has stated that efforts to reduce costs does not mean reduced care.

A review of AHS by Ernst & Young reported that the government could save $1.9 billion with sweeping reforms.

Roughly forty per cent of the province’s operating budget, $20.6 billion, will be spent on health care.

A negotiation between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which has roughly 24,000 employees, and the Alberta government continues on wages.

“We’re here to make sure that our community has the ability to have a hospital that they’re safe in and that they feel cared for in the proper way.”

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.