Pay health workers a fair wage

Re: Pay health-care workers a decent, consistent wage

Re: Pay health-care workers a decent, consistent wage

I am encouraged to see relatives of residents at Symphony Senior Living, like R. Dean Cowan (letter to the editor of the Advocate, Jan. 15), writing letters to share their experiences and views of seniors care in Alberta. I don’t dispute Mr. Cowan’s view that a private company should get a reasonable return on their investments, but I question if Ontario-based Symphony’s refusal to operate without a 30 to 40 per cent profit margin is sensible to demand of taxpayers, who are funding Symphony through Alberta Health Services.

To get those profits, Symphony is refusing to pay staff the wages that care staff at other Red Deer seniors care worksites receive. I doubt Albertans would agree that a profit margin of that size should be guaranteed by taxpayers while experienced seniors care employees are driven away by wages well below the market rate. That’s not right. The staff at Aspen Ridge are just as talented and caring as other Red Deer health-care employees. The value of their skill and dedication to residents does not decline simply because they work for Symphony.

Alberta Heath Services has mismanaged funding to this industry.

In other parts of the province, lockouts and strikes at private facilities have brought attention and increased scrutiny to the way in which private operators in long-term care rely on the Alberta government to make profit on the backs of taxpayers, workers, seniors and others requiring long-term care.

Seniors at Aspen Ridge need and deserve a stable, skilled and qualified staff to care for them. This can be achieved and maintained by focusing on fair compensation that attracts and retains staff instead of ensuring unreasonable profits for Symphony that are sent back to Ontario.

Guy Smith

President

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

Edmonton

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