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.

HSAA is guided by its mission statement, which is: To enhance the quality of life of its members and society. Guiding our decision making, HSAA adopted this Strategic Plan: Our members and the public will understand and value unions. This is a long-term objective and in order to achieve it, our board of directors are currently working on the three short-term goals of Engagement, Awareness and Advocacy.

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 electoral reform in Alberta, including the promotion of proportional representation

Rationale:

The traditional first past the post system in Alberta has contributed to low voter turnout, while proportional representation encourages greater voter participation because it treats all citizens more equally, better reflecting their intentions in the outcome of an election.

Amended 2014 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will:

Work with affiliate unions, federations of labour, labour councils, seniors groups and other allies to vigorously oppose provincial and federal government and employer attacks on defined-benefit (DB) workplace pension plans;

Work with affiliates and allies to develop materials, raise public awareness and educate union members about the value of DB pensions and the threats to these plans, including integrating a discussion of the value of DB and workplace pensions;

Continue to support and promote defined benefit pension plans and oppose legislation that would allow employers to convert DB plans to targetted-benefit (TB) or defined-contribution (DC) pension plans;

Work with affiliates and federations of labour to pressure provincial governments that are introducing provincial public pension plans to ensure they follow the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) model of universal coverage and that they do not have opt out provisions.

Rationale:

Defined-benefit (DB) pensions provide fairness to workers, income security for retirees, and vital revenue for public services, local vendors, and hundreds of thousands of households;

DB pensions are deferred wages, earned and paid for by employees;

Allowing TB or DC plans in the federal sector will do nothing for 12 million Canadians without a workplace pension plan;

Doubling future CPP/QPP benefits will provide higher and more secure retirement income for all Canadian workers, while reducing pressure on DB workplace plans.

Approved at AGM 2014
Reviewed Jan 2018
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA will support a living wage for all Albertans, including a minimum wage that enables workers to live above the poverty line and a social welfare policy free of ‘poverty trap’ claw backs.

We will support the activities of anti-poverty organizations that seek to pressure governments to ensure that workers directly employed, or contracted/subcontracted, or are employees of a partner organization, or are suppliers of goods and services to government will be paid a living wage.

Rationale:

Too many Albertans do not have access to employment which would pay sufficient wage and benefits to constitute a living wage, causing them to live in poverty.

The strength and solidarity of our communities depends on all citizens having access to a reasonable level of income from whatever combination of sources.

Poverty is not inevitable and can be partly addressed by municipal and higher levels of government adopting living wage policies to raise income levels.

A Living Wage is the amount of income an individual or family needs to meet basic needs, to maintain a safe, decent standard of living in their community and to save for future needs and goals. The amount of a Living Wage varies depending on the method used to measure the local cost of living in a particular community.” – Excerpted from Vibrant Communities Calgary November 2006 newsletter.

Amended 2014 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will:

Continue well-funded efforts to organize workers who are without a union and who would have a natural home in HSAA.

Prioritize public-sector hospital paramedical technical and professional employees, ambulance and emergency service workers, who remain unorganized or shielded from true union organization by employer-dominated associations.

Identify and develop longer-term organization objectives.

Be open to and available to assist our affiliates in the greater house of labour with their organizing efforts.

Not engage in raiding.

Rationale:

HSAA organizers have developed considerable momentum and experience through major campaigns and organizing drives.

Organizing the unorganized is an act of solidarity, a way to give back and build strength within the Union and our affiliates.

Through being organized in the Union, individual workers are able to assert their collective right to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.

Through collective actions, members of HSAA join a movement for social and economic justice.

Labour rights are human rights.

Approved 2007 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will:

Oppose any cuts to public education because research by allied organizations like Public Interest Alberta’s Task Force on Post-Secondary Education and the Alberta Teachers’ Association has shown that cuts to education funding threaten the very foundation of our children’s futures.

Rationale:

When education funding is cut, class sizes increase, programs suffer, fewer new teachers are hired, infrastructure repairs are shelved and support staff and services are reduced.

When P3s (public-private partnerships) are used to build schools, experience across Canada has shown that P3 projects ultimately result in greater costs than if traditional design and build methods are used – resulting in a siphoning of public money from direct education spending.

Investing in Alberta’s schools, public universities, colleges and technical institutes is essential for creating the “green” knowledge-based economy of the future and for building productive, healthy and diverse communities.

By increasing – not decreasing – the support for our public educational institutions, government will not only help stimulate Alberta’s short-term economic recovery but will also be laying the foundation for Alberta’s long-term prosperous future.

Raising tuition for people entering paramedical technical and professional programs will result in unsupportable student debt for individual graduates and more severe healthcare labour shortages in the near future, due to young people turning away from expensive post-secondary experience.

Approved 2010 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will:

Promote quality public services and tax fairness as key ways to reduce income inequality and achieve greater prosperity, opportunity and living standards for Canadians and raise awareness about the large and growing income inequality gap in Canada and the social and economic problems associated with this trend.

Rationale:

Income inequality in Canada (the gap between the richest and poorest Canadians) has been dramatically growing over the last two decades, while the incomes of most Canadians have stagnated; and

This trend is contributing to economic instability, damaging the social fabric of our country and diminishing the quality of life for Canadians; and

Reduced government spending, tax cuts favouring the wealthiest Canadians, and tax cuts for profitable corporations have accelerated the growing income gap.

Approved AGM 2011
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will:

Adopt the recommendations of the Alberta Federation of Labour’s Report on Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta (December 2010).

Advocate that workers who are invited into Canada to meet labour demands be offered Permanent Resident status.

Advocate for all articles of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly as it addresses the rights of all workers, specifically articles 4, 15, 21, 23 and 24.

Rationale:

Labour rights are human rights.

Temporary Foreign Workers have historically been exploited by employers, labour brokers and recruiters due to lax government standards, laws and enforcement.

Approved 2013 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA will work with provincial and federal affiliates to oppose the use of omnibus budget bills by the federal government through lobbying and public education campaigns which expose the potential dangers.

Rationale:

Omnibus budget bills have been used to make legislated changes that have nothing to do with the budget.

Omnibus bills deprive Canadians of the right to hear their elected representative debate important legislative changes, and debate is a key element in keeping our democracy transparent.

Omnibus bills are an attack on Canadian values and undermine faith in democracy.

Approved at 2013 AGM
Amended May 2018 Convention

HSAA encourages members to be vaccinated to contribute to public health initiatives to prevent the spread of seasonal influenza. HSAA recognizes that its members should have a right to make their own health-care decisions and are entitled to the privacy of that choice. HSAA will support members in making their choice.  Where that choice impacts their work HSAA will support members in seeking “accommodation.”

Approved AGM 2013
Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA Believes that no work-related injury is acceptable and that members, staff and agents of HSAA have a right to leave work free from injury or disease, either mental or physical, caused by their job or their workplace.

HSAA believes that Patient safety and patient outcomes are closely linked to worker safety. Thus, our members and their employers have a strong mutual interest and professional and moral obligation to work together to establish a strong safety culture and infrastructure to improve the lives of all Albertans.

Workplace factors have a significant impact on the overall health both physical and mental of a worker thus HSAA believes that Health and Wellness programs are a fundamental part of Workplace Health and Safety.

As Healthcare is one of the most dangerous industries in Alberta HSAA will strive to be a leader in the labour movement when it comes to advocating for health and safety in Alberta Workplaces, and will seek to develop a strong safety culture amongst our members, leaders and staff.  HSAA will seek to reduce the level of injury and occupational disease amongst our membership by working to hold employers accountable for the high rates of injury and occupational illness in the Healthcare industry.

HSAA will work with government, labour organizations, and other safety advocates to improve health and safety legislation and standards in the healthcare industry.

HSAA will seek to build a strong safety culture amongst the membership by providing Education, resources and advocacy regarding health and safety rights and responsibilities.

HSAA will lead by example when it comes to Health and Safety by having robust internal health and safety processes embedded within the culture of our union.

HSAA will support our members who are members of Joint Management Labour Health and Safety Committees. This support will include, print resources, formal education and expert guidance to members of joint committees and the membership at large.

HSAA’s Health, Safety and Wellness Committee (standing committee) shall act as a conduit to provide feedback on how HSAA can better support the membership regarding workplace health safety and wellness matters.

HSAA will seek out partnerships with safety organizations that are working on health and safety issues of importance to our members, recommendations for these partnerships will come from the membership at large or the board Health Safety and Wellness Committee and be approved by the board of directors.

HSAA will strategically advocate for improvements to health and safety legislation, recognizing that Alberta has some of the least worker-friendly health and safety legislation in Canada.

HSAA will apply best practices and sufficient resources to provide a safe working environment for staff, members, and elected leadership when they are engaged in activities on behalf of HSAA.

HSAA will work with the Employee Management Health and Safety committee to ensure that proactive solutions to health and safety issues at HSAA worksites can be found, and implemented.

HSAA will strive to lead by example when it comes to worker participation in establishing a healthy and safe workplace.

HSAA will implement an independently audited health and safety management system to ensure the organization continues to meet best practice regarding health and safety because HSAA recognizes that independent inspections/audits are fundamental to safety improvement and maintaining health and safety in any workplace.

HSAA will strive to ensure that Safety and Health is embraced by all members and staff when they are acting on behalf of HSAA and have control of or influence over activities that affect safety and health.  Members and staff are to ensure their own safety and the safety of others in accordance with HSAA policy.

Rationale:

Supporting and improving health, safety and wellness in the workplaces of our members and Alberta workplaces at large is a fundamental aspect of HSAA’s mission statement.

Approved AGM May 2016
Reviewed May 2018 Convention