AUPE files labour board complaint for workers at Red Deer’s Michener Centre

Michener Centre is one of the last publicly run homes for persons with developmental disabilities

The union representing workers at Red Deer’s Michener Centre says too few hours are being offered to its members.

In a news release, The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says that close to 40 staff have suffered a substantial drop in hours after the Alberta government required staff who work at multiple continuing-care homes to be limited to a single site.

The union has filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board, alleging that by following the COVID-19 directive from the province, workers did not receive extra hours to make up for the loss of income from their other employers.

The Michener Centre is one of the last publicly run homes for persons with developmental disabilities.

“To make matters worse, the employer strong-armed members into selecting Michener as their sole job over the course of the pandemic,” says AUPE vice-president Bonnie Gostola.

“Now the ones who stayed are paying the price, along with the residents they support.”

According to an August order by Labour Minister Jason Copping, when employees choose one site, their other employers are supposed to put them on a leave of absence and they should maintain any pension or benefits.

The order also states that the employees should be allowed to return to work once the provincial health emergency is lifted.

Also included in the order is a stipulation that employers are to give workers priority access to extra hours if their hours are reduced by being restricted to one site.

The AUPE said that without consistent hours, workers can’t give residents the 24/7 attention that they need.

“Our members help give back residents some of their independence,” Gostola said.

“They love what they do. Residents are their second family, and all they want is to give them a place they can call home, while being able to support their own families.”

The union says it plans to file both individual and policy grievances with the government.

In July, the government also closed down the on-campus dentist office at Michener, which provided specialized services for residents.

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