Over 50 Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) workers and residents from Revera Aspen Ridge in Red Deer marched in protest of cuts to care hours today (August 23, 2022). The for-profit seniors residence is implementing cut backs to hours for staff to the tune of 450 hours for a two week period which is the equivalent of 11 full-time jobs. 

“Eleven full-time jobs taken away from the care of these residents which is a huge burden for the remaining cares of staff that are here. It also puts a huge burden [on residents] because they haven't cut the amount that they are actually charging these residents to actually live in these facilities. Rivera is doing this across Canada and definitely across Alberta,” said AUPE Vice-President, Bonnie Gostola. 

Gostola believes the cuts are being put in place solely to save a bit of extra money.  

“The bottom line is greed because unfortunately big business gets to take the lead in how health care is provided and especially in long-term care. We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that the problem with their model is that the persons who suffer the most are the people who need skilled services,” said Gostola. 

The vice-president believes that people should be put over profit. She believes this level of cutback will affect every level of care from housekeeping, to nursing care, and more. Another challenge with staffing cutbacks is that the demand for senior care is increasing along with the need for more staff. Currently, Gostola believes more staff are needed at the facility. 

“I know that they are about 76-77% occupancy, which is actually up since pre-pandemic levels. Their argument for this whole thing was ‘we want to return to pre-pandemic levels.’ They didn't have this level of residency pre-pandemic. During the pandemic, they actually worked short all the time and again it was a huge burden on the staff,” said Gostola. 

Gostola also said a lot of the staff that are being hired and current staff are only casually employed with part-time work. 

“A lot of the people who work for Revera actually have to have multiple jobs to actually make a living. This pandemic has really put that to the forefront. Unfortunately by doing that, it really does draw attention that we have a real severe crisis in Canada in healthcare, but especially in Alberta in healthcare.”

Gostola says several of the staff members consider the clientele part of their family. Some residents of Revera Aspen Ridge could also be spotted holding signs and marching alongside staff. 

“They are paying for these services and now they’re basically paying more for less. And yes, I am very proud to see that the residents really do understand that they are out there to support the workers who are their family,” she added.