Staff at an Edmonton housing co-op for the disabled have been handed termination notices after Alberta Health Services hired a private contractor to deliver care at the Whyte Avenue home, effective August 1.
Workers at the Abby Road Housing Co-operative on Whyte Avenue were informed last week the entire staff of 25 would be laid off, and new management would be introduced.
Abby Road is run directly by its residents, who elect a board of directors that hires and oversees staff.
Revera Incorporated, a for-profit home-care provider from Ontario, has been picked to take over operations.
The change in operations is part of the province’s plan to cut down the number of companies providing home care across Alberta.
"This is a terrible way to treat people," says Roberts in the release. "The residents are worried they will lose their caregivers, and our members are being told they might be out of a job," Marle Roberts, head of CUPE Alberta, the union that represents the laid-off workers, said in a press release Monday.
"To take away the ability of residents to manage their own affairs, and to give the contract to a private company with no history at this facility, doesn't smell right," he added.
NDP MLA David Eggen also criticized the change in management, saying the switch will likely mean cheaper salaries and will negatively impact the quality of care Abby Road residents receive in the long term.
"The Alberta government has some serious explaining to do in regards to these home-care contracts they have been giving out to private corporations," he said.
"This is a pattern of behaviour that we see with this government — they're making a choice to replace non-profit home-care services across this province with corporate contracts."
"The better quality people you have on the ground, the better quality of healthcare you have," he said, adding that "Revera consistently pays its workers below industry standards wherever it operates and is skimming public health money for its corporate profits."
This is not the first time a Revera facility in Edmonton has made the news. Workers at Revera Riverbend Retirement Living went on strike for 70 days in 2012.
The province declared a public emergency after a resident died, and forced the striking staff to return to work.