Don’t take basic rights away from health workers

Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, Article 2, it states: “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a. Freedom of conscience and religion; b. Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and the expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c. Freedom of peaceful assembly; d. Freedom of association.”

Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, Article 2, it states: “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a. Freedom of conscience and religion; b. Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and the expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c. Freedom of peaceful assembly; d. Freedom of association.”

The charter’s history lies in the Canadian Bill of Rights that resulted from the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948 as a direct result of what happened during the Second World War.

Throughout Canada’s history, immigrants have come to Canada for freedom and to escape tyranny. My ancestors were some of those people.

My grandfather served in both World Wars to protect those rights and freedoms. Three of my uncles served in the Second World War to protect those rights and freedoms.

My brother and sisters served a combination of approximately 65 years with the Canadian Forces to protect those rights and freedoms, not only for Canadians but also for people in other countries.

Now Alberta Health Services, with the blessing of the government of Alberta, has passed a Code of Conduct that will in effect strip one of these rights from my fellow health-care professionals and myself.

Apparently this “code” also includes our opinions about the health-care system as private citizens. If we are found guilty of speaking up against Alberta Health Services for any reason, we will be terminated.

This not only goes against everything I have been raised to believe to be my right and my family has paid for with their blood, sweat and tears, it violates my professional responsibility as a registered nurse.

It is my professional responsibility to advocate for my patients. If you ask anyone who knows me they will tell you I take this responsibility very seriously. Why? Because if I don’t speak up and act to keep my patients safe, then who will?

The people I care for cannot order their own care, nor can they speak for themselves for part of the time they are with me. Their lives are literally in the hands of my colleagues and myself. They are depending on me to keep them safe.

Of course I have and will continue to go through all the proper channels to resolve issues in the workplace. But at the end of the day, if my patient’s safety is still in jeopardy, am I correct to believe I should speak up on their behalf or do I abide by Alberta Health Service’s gag order and let unsafe conditions continue?

If, as a private citizen, I see inadequacies in our health-care system in Alberta, am I to remain silent or do I speak up and point them out?

My ancestors have fought tyranny since before the Battle of Culloden — so you tell me where you think I stand. My question for all of you and not just health-care providers is: Where do you stand? Will you speak up to your MLA about this violation or will you let tyranny prevail?

JoAnne Korosi RN, BScN

Red Deer