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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HSAA will advocate for inclusive communities, economic rights of all people, the right of all people to access publicly delivered health care, and terms and conditions of employment that enable people to work to the full extent of their abilities.

HSAA will conduct its activities in keeping with union principles and values of Human Rights, Equality and Non- Discrimination of all HSAA members and members of society.

Rationale:

All people should be able to live in any community without discrimination based on race, colour, place of origin, ancestry, political or religious belief, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, source of income, age and physical and mental disability.

All people have the right to form and join unions, receive favourable remuneration for working people and economic security for everyone in the event of disability, old age, unemployment or other lack of livelihood.

Even though employers have a duty to accommodate employees with disabilities, the marginalization and exclusion of such persons from full participation in meaningful work continues to exist in Alberta.

All people have the right to access publicly delivered health care; to access educational opportunities; to participate in the arts and cultural life of their community, and to live and work in a clean and healthy environment.

Approved 2013 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

It is the position of HSAA that the raising of children, while first and foremost the choice and responsibility of parents, is also a responsibility of our society at large.

Rationale:

Under no circumstances should provincial legislation have the effect of disentitling a parent from federal (EI) or contractual benefits.

Parental leaves should be funded to the maximum monthly allowance via Federal EI program for the full duration of the parental leave.

To foster the growing participation of parent’s in the care of their children, there should be no gender distinction between employees in relation to parental benefits.

There should be no difference in the period of parental leave provided to adoptive or biological parents.

Approved at 2001 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

It is the position of HSAA that all levels of government must take responsibility for public policy to eliminate poverty and to provide the necessary support and social programs for those in need, while at the same time creating an environment of economic growth and individual initiative.

It is the position of HSAA that to eliminate poverty, all Canadians must have access to, quality public healthcare, a living wage and a meaningful range of human and social services, free from all forms of discrimination.

HSAA believes that freedom from poverty is a human right; we believe in equality among all people; we believe we are all entitled to social and economic security; we believe in dignity for all.

HSAA will:

Join in solidarity with the organizations calling upon the provincial, federal and municipal governments to work together with community organizations and others to develop a comprehensive plan with measurable poverty reduction targets and timelines to eliminate poverty in Alberta.

Rationale:

Poverty is not the result of failure of the individual, but rather the failure of public policy in ensuring the economic and social well-being of Canada’s citizens; and

Poverty is not merely relegated to those unable to work, but also to the growing segment of society known as the “working poor”.

The gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen dramatically resulting in more people living in poverty than ever before.

The existence of poverty in a province and nation as wealthy as Alberta and Canada is an unnecessary tragedy.

Poverty in the midst of plenty is a failure of social policy not an inevitable or natural outcome, and consequently can be addressed by government and partner organizations; and

The reduction of poverty, on the way to its elimination, results in greater social cohesiveness and consequently better health outcomes for everyone in society, which in turn will make for less overall cost to the health care system; and

Reduction of poverty will result in positive economic benefit to Alberta, such as reduced crime, increased productivity in the workplace, and higher income and corporate taxation revenue.

Approved at 2002 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will support Source Testing on a voluntary basis and encourage procedural improvements, and educational programs for workers that will yield reductions in frequency of exposure, as well as train the worker on how to deal with exposure when it has occurred.

Rationale:

HSAA members may be exposed to infectious body fluids at work, body fluids in the form of needle stick injuries, and other inadvertent exposure, could lead to infection and illness in the affected worker.

Testing of the patient who was the source of the potentially infectious material may be helpful in predicting the potential transmission of certain pathogens.

Such screening at most provides a “snapshot” of a particular moment in time, and does not rule out infection in affected workers.

Such screening has the potential of instilling a false sense of security into the affected worker and could result in the affected worker not taking necessary steps in further transmission of infection.

Testing of Source patients does involve some risks minor risks to the patient.

Approved at 2004 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will support and encourage the development of policies and procedures that:

Minimize or eliminate exposure to any second-hand smoke, allergens, chemicals, molds, and scented products in all areas of employment. (Both on and off-site locations).

Recognize that workers who experience such health problems or disability are entitled to receive accommodation in accordance with Human Rights principles and legislation.

Ensure timely and accurate reporting to the Workers’ Compensation Board where appropriate and necessary.

Rationale:

As a health care union whose members work for health care employers, HSAA should have a special interest in identifying emerging health hazards, and

Air quality in all areas of employment, both on employer property (including all buildings, grounds and parking lots) and all off site locations, may be affected by: second-hand smoke – various allergens (including mold, plant and animal allergens) – chemicals – scented products – temperature, and – humidity

Exposure to such substances may cause or aggravate health problems for some people (especially those with asthma, allergies and other medical conditions), and

Many health care employers have policies which are either too limited or only apply to on site locations.

Approved at 2004 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will continue to support campaigns opposing initiatives that use public dollars to create private profit from the provision of public services.

HSAA will continue to do its utmost to ensure strong union representation of health care workers regardless of where they work, including P3 facilities.

HSAA will oppose public-private partnerships for public services including hospitals and support campaigns to keep public services and public infrastructure public.

Rationale:

While P3s may be made to appear financially attractive in the short-term, they ultimately result in greater public costs and loss of public control than if projects were publicly funded and operated.

Long term nature of the contractual commitments will leave a legacy of debt and financial obligations for future generations

P3 projects tend to result in lower wages, reduced job security, and the loss of money and other resources from local communities, possibly to foreign-owned corporations. Evidence demonstrates that P3s lead to a decline in service quality while giving large profits to investors and putting greater fiscal pressure on government.

Government of Alberta and some Alberta Health Services continue to promote public-private partnerships (P3s). Government of Alberta continues to endorse and promote public-private partnerships (P3s) in health care, education and other public services.

All working people deserve a union of their democratic choice.

Commissioner Roy Romanow in Building on Values: The Future of Health Care in Canada demanded evidence that private provisioning of public health care services was better and found that evidence was not forthcoming from privatization proponents.

Approved at 2004 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

WHEREAS of the 185 Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Canada has only ratified 30; and

WHEREAS of the seven core Conventions of the ILO, Canada has only ratified five; and

WHEREAS of the 30 ILO Conventions developed since 1982 – all of which Canada voted for at the ILO’s Annual Conferences – Canada has only ratified two

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the HSAA work with its affiliated bodies to develop and coordinate activities designed to influence the federal and provincial governments to:

  • Have labour legislation comply with the ILO’s freedom of association principles; – ratify the ILO’s core Conventions:  No. 98 – the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention and No. 138 – the Minimum Age Convention; and
  • Establish an ongoing consultative process with the labour movement with respect to the ratification of ILO Conventions that Canada has voted for at the ILO’s Annual Conferences.

Approved at 2005 AGM
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA believes that Federal and Provincial governments are failing in their responsibility under international labour and human rights standards to protect workers’ rights by their continuous legislative attack on workers’ rights to organize, bargain collectively, take strike action and Right to Work legislation. HSAA will continue to condemn the use of legislation to restrict or deny the fundamental rights of workers.

HSAA will work with its affiliates to make progressive labour law reform a central focus of labour’s political agenda and create public awareness around the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Rationale:

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of legislation by the federal and provincial governments to restrict and/or deny the collective bargaining rights of Canadian workers as evident by the 200 pieces of restrictive labour legislation proclaimed by the federal and provincial governments since 1982.

Amended 2013 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will strive in its procurement practices for goods and services to use providers that support the values of organized labour and encourage its membership to do the same.

Rationale:

  • Attaches great importance to the values of organized labour and international solidarity
  • Members believe in the dignity and value of each person’s work.
  • Is opposed to sweatshop working conditions.
  • HSAA’s mission is “To enhance the quality of life of its members and society.”

Amended at 2013 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA supports publicly owned, operated and delivered utilities.

Rationale:

All essential utilities should have public interest over shareholder interest in providing services. The rates of public utilities are regulated to protect citizens from unreasonable cost surges.

Keith Provost, a retired senior operating officer with Alberta Power, said Alberta’s deregulation of electricity has proven to be a failed experiment. By Provost’s calculation, it has cost Alberta consumers $32 billion as at December 8, 2016.

Approved at AGM 2005
Amended May 2018 Convention