Not everyone has gotten back to their pre-pandemic normal yet but Alberta’s UCP government sure has. The war with nurses is back on, and AHS dropped a hell of a bomb last week, aiming for 3% rollbacks to nursing wages along with a host of other nickel-and-dime cuts from all angles. This, after Alberta’s nurses have already been stuck with years of salary freezes. This in an Alberta where hospitals in even the capital city are closing beds for lack of staff. And this, after those nurses have been in a grueling fight for over a year to keep coronavirus from overwhelming the whole province.
(It’s not actually over, of course. Alberta Health Services reports that they are aware of hundreds of active cases in the province, still, with about half of them being the dangerous, more-infectious variants. Three more deaths were announced on July 11.)
The importance of a reliable and properly-supported health care system—and I’d argue Alberta’s is already not reliable or properly-supported—has never been more obvious. Nurses themselves are as popular as they’ve ever been. Slashing their wages now is so offensive that you’d almost wonder if Jason Kenney and Travis Toews are trying to see if they can push their polling numbers under zero somehow.
It’s tense over on the nurses’ side. Morale is low and workers are burnt out. Many hospitals and clinics are suffering from severe staff shortages already; even the Royal Alex in Edmonton has had to close emergency room beds this week for lack of nurses. UNA President Heather Smith has told the media that the union’s members are demanding a strike vote, and I believe it.
A province-wide nursing strike would be absolute chaos. Let’s hope Toews gets his boot off the nurses’ necks before he engineers a disaster.
One of Alberta’s most obnoxious political actors, John Carpay, may soon bother us no more. Carpay has been canned by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms—an organization most succinctly described as ‘an evil cabal’—after it was revealed that Carpay hired a private investigator to surveil the judge in a case that the JCCF was involved in. (The case: the JCCF was representing seven Manitoba churches that were trying to get COVID restrictions declared unconstitutional.) Carpay maintains that his intention was not to dig up dirt to blackmail or discredit the judge with, which is pretty hard to believe. The JCCF and Carpay have been at the fore of quite a few odious projects in Alberta, like the fight to remove legal protections for GSAs.
- The Sturgeon Refinery continues to bleed money and now we own half of it.
The Green Line in Calgary is a go, finally, after the provincial and federal governments finally came up with their portions of the funding for the project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Calgary last week to announce the federal contribution—he’s been touring the country announcing large projects, so a federal election may be on the way—and the Premier’s strategy geniuses probably figured that he couldn’t be the last stick in the mud, so the province announced its funding concurrently. Jeremys Klaszus and Appel have a detailed summary of the Green Line story, including an interview with Trudeau, up on the Sprawl.
- Also in Calgary: Ward Sutherland has dropped out of the council race to assist with Jeff Davison’s campaign for mayor. The establishment players and big donors seem to be lining up behind Davison, but he’s polling far behind Jeromy Farkas; I wish them a very good split the vote.
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