Workers at Revera’s Red Deer Aspen Ridge retirement residence rallied against cutbacks on Thursday.
About 40 staff at the independent supportive living facility at 3100 22nd St. were protesting plans to roll back staff hours as well as the company stalling on a new contract to replace an agreement that expired three years ago.
About 90 licensed practical nurses, health care aides, housekeeping and dietary staff and others represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) work at the retirement facility.
“The company is basically going ahead with reducing hours and cutting full-time jobs,” said AUPE vice-president Bonnie Gostola, adding that the reduction in hours affects workers across the board.
As workers pick their shifts, most won’t get as many hours and some at the bottom rung will be bumped into casual jobs, which do not include benefits or guaranteed hours.
“Basically, (staff) have had enough. They’ve worked hard over the last 2 1/2 years of this pandemic and now they’re being asked to sacrifice even more.
“They want the public to know and they want the employer to know that is not acceptable.”
Gostola said the reduction in hours will affect care at the facility.
“I really feel sorry for their clientele because they are now being asked to have basically less care. With the reduction in hours, there is less care being provided. I’m sorry, that’s the only way to interpret that.”
Local chapel chair Esther Young also expressed union members’ frustration.
“We began bargaining in 2019 and they’ve stalled and thrown up hurdles every step of the way. Three years is too long.”
Brian Yee, Revera director of regional operations for Alberta said in a statement that “from time to time, we are required to align our staff based on the needs of our residents. Our goal is to deliver quality services to our residents, coupled with the personalization and choice we know our residents want in retirement living.
“Our focus is ensuring we have the right staff, at the right place, at the right time,” said Yee.
“At Revera, we work closely and collaboratively with our union partners, and information pickets are a right of the union which we respect. We will continue to work with employees to resolve any outstanding issues, working through the well-established, mutually-agreed upon processes that are in place.”
Pat MacPherson, who is a health care aide, said any cutbacks will have an impact on care.
“They also have to realize if you’re cutting back staff we’re not going to be able to give the care that they say we’re going to be able to give,” said McPherson.
McPherson does not ask a lot from the company. “The only thing I can think of is no layoffs or cutbacks.”
Health care aide Cahlyn Kirwer felt the cutbacks were especially unfair after all that staff did during the pandemic.
“We’re completely losing a few people, which is not fair after we put our own lives on the line through COVID, and our own family’s safety on the line.”
Lois Bourret, president of the Revera Residents Council, was among about a dozen residents who came out to support and show their appreciation to the workers.
The facility cannot afford to lose staff, she said.
“There may be some places that need to cut staff, but definitely not ours. Right now, we’re short two managers.”
The company also owns the nearby Rivera Inglewood. The facility is not unionized.
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