Position Statements

The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) is a trade union affiliated with the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and its subordinate bodies – the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and the various District Labour Councils across Alberta. We hold to be true a set of values based in social democracy, social and environmental justice. These values guide us in taking positions on issues that arise on an ongoing basis.

Our position statements flow from our values, mission statement and strategic plan, that are the basic rationale for each.

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It is the position of HSAA that mandatory mass screening of health care workers for HIV infection would be unjustified abrogation of individual civil liberties, not in the best interests of health care consumers, workers or of Alberta Taxpayers.

Rationale:

From time to time there are suggestions for mandatory mass HIV screening for all health care providers in Alberta.

Such screening provides at most a snapshot of a particular moment in time and provides no assurance of the individual’s HIV status at any time after the test, and

Health care workers are at far greater risk of contracting the virus from patients, but standard HIV screening of health care consumers is not proposed, and

The cost of wholesale screening of health care workers would be prohibitive, and

Such screening could lead both health care workers and consumers into a false sense of security, potentially leading to a relaxation of universal blood/body fluids precautions and exposure to not only undiagnosed HIV, but also to far more easily transmitted diseases such as Hepatitis B and C.

Approved AGM May 2002
Amended May 2018

HSAA will continue to advocate for and support:

  • Strict adherence to the five principles of the Canada Health Act:
    1. public administration
    2. comprehensiveness
    3. universality
    4. portability
    5. accessibility
  • Inclusion of community care, rehabilitation, home care, and long-term care within the scope of the legal framework defining medicare in Canada.
  • Development of a national home care program, a national Pharmacare program, and effective preventive health care programs.
  • Assurance of national standards through allocation of adequate federal funding to publicly provided health care.
  • Allocation of appropriate funding by the Alberta government to address the health care needs of Albertans without shifting health care provision to private, for-profit enterprises.
  • Recognition by governments of demographic factors, including population growth, age, poverty and other social determinants of health in resource allocation.

Rationale:

A clear majority of Canadians support the five fundamental principles enshrined in the Canada Health Act.

HSAA recognizes that while there are fiscal concerns, these must not supersede the primary goal of health care – the health and well-being of Canadians.

Methods of health care delivery and health care funding have shifted a substantial portion of care from hospitals and physicians’ services into community and home settings, and long-term care settings, with provision by many other allied health professionals.

Costs of pharmaceuticals and other supplies, which are essential in the delivery of health care, are prohibitive for many Canadians.

Both federal and provincial government funding allocations have been inadequate to ensure that the health care needs of Canadians are met.

HSAA supports Tommy Douglas’s vision of a “Second Stage of Medicare” remains to be completed.

Approved at 2008 AGM
Amended May 2018

It is the position of HSAA that safe, affordable, easily accessible child care be available to all parents, or those acting in a parental capacity, whether or not they are working outside the home.

Governments must commit adequate resources to comprehensive regulations and their enforcement.

Rationale:

Unions, by virtue of their role as social advocates, have a responsibility to influence and encourage the establishment of universal high quality, publicly-funded, non-profit, accessible and inclusive child care.

HSAA believes that children are society’s most valuable resource, and that their nurturing is the responsibility of everyone.

Child care providers should be well trained, with formal education in child care. Child care providers should receive terms and conditions of employment befitting the value of the services they provide.

Child care should be available at work sites or at other convenient locations, with hours that reflect the needs of the families they serve.

Amended May 2016
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

It is the position of HSAA that the focus of attendance management programs must be to help the employee to achieve satisfactory attendance, but not to harass or intimidate employees, not to deny benefits.

Rationale:

It is recognized that both the employer and employees have an interest in ensuring satisfactory attendance.

When healthcare workers attend work while sick, this puts the patients at an unnecessary risk to get ill.

Attendance management programs may result in inappropriate employer response in cases of illness, with the result that employees may feel harassed.

Approved December 3, 1998
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

It is the position of HSAA that Bullying and Harassment is considered unacceptable conduct.  It is offensive, and in many cases, intimidates or humiliates others, and will not be tolerated by HSAA.

Rationale:

Bullying is defined as: Acts or verbal comments that could “psychologically” hurt or isolate a person in the workplace.  Sometimes bullying can involve negative physical contact as well.  Bullying usually involves repeated incidents, a pattern or behavior that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a person or group of people.  It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression. (CCOHS Definition).

Harassment means any single incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action by a person that the person knows or ought reasonable to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to a worker, or adversely affects the worker’s health and safety, and includes

  • Conduct, comment, bullying or action because of ethnicity, religious beliefs, colour, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status, gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, and
  • A sexual solicitation or advance,

but excludes any reasonable conduct of an employer or supervisor in respect of the management of workers or a work site. (Alberta OHS Act, sec. 1(q))

Alberta OHS Act has enacted obligations required of Employers, supervisors, and workers for the prevention of harassment in the workplace.

Every employer shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so, that none of the employer’s workers are subject to or participate in harassment or violence at the work site. (OHS Act, Part 1, sec. 3(1)(c))

Every worker shall, while engaged in an occupation, refrain from causing or participating in harassment or violence. (OHS Act, Part 1, sec. 5(d))

HSAA recognizes that harassment in the workplace compromises the integrity of the employment relationship and endangers employee well-being and job performance.

It is the responsibility of the employer to have a harassment prevention plan which includes a policy and procedures to provide a working environment which protects employees from Bullying and Harassment.

HSAA will insist on a timely, thorough investigation to be conducted by the Employer in every Bullying and Harassment complaint and will vigorously pursue redress for all bargaining unit members who are harassed.

 

 

Approved December 3, 1998
Amended March 2019
Approved at Convention May 2019

It is the position of HSAA that students should not work without supervision, or in place of bargaining unit employees

Rationale:

It is recognized that student practicum placements are essential in the education of qualified health care personnel, HSAA feels it is in the best interest of Patients that all student activities are supervised by qualified and/or licensed healthcare professionals.

Approved December 3, 1998
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

It is the position of HSAA that volunteers shall not perform the work of, or replace, bargaining unit employees.

Rationale:

It is recognized that the presence of volunteers in health care facilities can add value to the health care system helping patients and families.

However, HSAA believes it is important that all patient care is performed by qualified and licensed professionals in the interest of patient safety.

Approved December 3, 1998
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA opposes a flat tax structure.

Rationale:

Flat Tax structure is regressive, providing a disproportionate benefit to higher income earners, and penalizes lower income earners.

Approved at May 2012 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA supports the concept of these programs and the provision of this benefit by the Employer.

HSAA will pursue ensuring members be a considered key stakeholder and have direct input to ensure providers and programs are adequate and meet the needs of our members.

It is HSAA’s position that these programs will not replace employer benefit responsibilities and must be administered at arm’s length and completely independent of the employer.  Confidentiality must be maintained and the utilization of these programs by our members must be voluntary.

Rationale:

HSAA recognizes the importance of Employee and Family Assistance programs which provide counseling and support for staff members and their families.

Programs need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

HSAA recognizes that members need to ensure programs are meeting the needs by participating in provider review and renewal procedures.

Approved at 2001 AGM
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA believes in the concept of union solidarity expressed as the participation of its Local Unit Members in Joint Union Activities.

Such participation, in support of causes that benefit Union members and their families, is encouraged.

Approved April 6, 2000
Reviewed May 2018 Convention