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Public sector workers rally against government cuts

More than 200 show up in snowstorm in front of City Hall

More than 200 teachers, nurses and other public sector workers rallied against government funding cuts in front of Red Deer City Hall on Saturday.

The rally was one of eight across Alberta organized by ABCan Forward, which describes itself as a non-partisan and non-union group.

“Nobody wants to see the public sector weakened,” said Barry Brookes, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 417, at Red Deer’s rally.

“Jason Kenney and the UCP think they can (do) whatever they want and attack the public services and the people.”

Brookes said by acting collectively, Albertans can send a strong message to government.

United Nurses of Alberta representative Sabrina Beck said the UCP government has said it plans to cut 500 registered nurses and registered practical nurses.

“There is a shortage of nurses all over the province already, so how can they do that? It’s going to be so much worse.

“With this shortage of nurses, there’s a potential our health could be affected.”

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees representative Jason Heistad said the province’s unions have worked together in the past to oppose government policies that target public sector employees, and will do so again.

“This is just starting. We’ve got three years of this,” said Heistad, who is secretary treasurer of the union representing 95,000 workers.

“They do not know what’s coming,” he said, referring to the Kenney government.

Heistad led crowd chants of “When we fight, we win.”

Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Don Brookwell said the government has repeatedly said it wants to hear from Albertans.

“We are here out in the snow asking the government not to hear, but to listen to Albertans. We’re asking the government to communicate with Albertans.”

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