Information pickets set for region

Rallies for hospital security are set for Thursday and Friday in Olds and Ponoka, respectively.

Rallies for hospital security are set for Thursday and Friday in Olds and Ponoka, respectively.

Information pickets organized by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees will take on the province over removing on-site security guards from The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, and the Olds Hospital and Care Centre, and replacing them with roving security patrols.

Four security guards in Ponoka and three in Olds will lose their current positions, according to AUPE vice-president Jason Heistad.

“In rural sites, a lot does go on,” said Heistad, explaining that the guards worked afternoons and evenings at the facilities. “It’s not 1976, it’s 2010. There are lots of street drugs now and issues in rural communities that you’re not seeing 15 years ago, and that’s a concern to all staff.”

If the nearest security officer is in Lacombe, there’s not much that can be done if there’s an incident in Olds, Heistad said.

“The unfortunate part is that when there are issues going on the RCMP are going to be relied on, and if they’re not available, then I guess one of the caretakers or nursing staff take on the issue. That’s the scary part.”

The rollout of roving security details in rural areas has been pushed back to May 1 from April 1.

The Olds rally will begin at 3:30 p.m. in a park across the street from Tedd’s Food Mart at 5002 46th St. before proceeding to MLA Richard Marz’s office. The Ponoka rally will begin at 49th Avenue and 50th Street across from The Brick at 3:30 p.m.

mgauk@bprda.wpengine.com