Points West Living moves to terminate Cold Lake, Alta., senior care workers

Comes one day after new labour legislation introduced

Points West Living announced in a letter to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) May 25 that the company will terminate all nursing care employees at its Cold Lake facility and plans to have an outside contractor provide care in the future, said the union.

The announcement came to AUPE just one day after Bill 17 — the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act — was tabled in the legislature. If passed, the bill will bring in provisions to settle first collective agreements in newly unionized sites such as Points West Living Cold Lake.

“This is a mean-spirited, cowardly move designed to avoid the new labour relations legislation,” said Guy Smith, AUPE president. “Points West Living has made union busting a higher priority than providing quality care to the seniors they are responsible for and that’s disturbing.”

AUPE filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board, asserting the move is illegal. The union is requesting an injunction to stop the contracting out, said AUPE.

Points West Living locked out its Cold Lake employees just before Christmas. Staff members continue to picket at the facility every day. Workers are calling for solutions to problems such as short-staffing, arbitrary scheduling and concerns about training that jeopardize the quality of care for the residents they serve, according to the union.

The decision to terminate the Cold Lake workers comes on the heels of a settlement of a collective agreement with AUPE at Points West Living’s Heritage House in Vegreville, which maintained provisions to deter the practice of “working short,” or not replacing staff absent in the case of vacation or illness, said the union.

AUPE is Alberta’s largest union with more than 90,000 members province-wide.

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