Alberta union protests bed closures at mental health facility in Edmonton

The province’s largest union is spearheading a campaign to halt the planned closure of beds at Alberta Hospital in northeast Edmonton.

EDMONTON — The province’s largest union is spearheading a campaign to halt the planned closure of beds at Alberta Hospital in northeast Edmonton.

Alberta Health Services president Dr. Stephen Duckett announced last week the intention to close about 150 beds at the aging 410-bed institution.

Low-risk patients will be transferred to community living facilities.

Doug Knight, president of the Alberta Union of Public Employees, says the union’s aim is to keep the facility open.

He says he fears the move to close beds will be the beginning of the end of the hospital.

He and others have argued there’s already a shortage of group homes or other community facilities for those with mental illness, so closing beds won’t work.

Knight says AUPE represents 750 employees at the hospital that he said is a “world-class facility.”

The union is trying to rally support against the bed closures from doctors, nurses, politicians, the Edmonton Police Service and the Edmonton Police Commission, he said.

Knight said concerned residents should call their MLAs to protest the bed closures.

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