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:

Work to ensure that dangerous trade deals are not adopted by Canada through lobbying of our provincial and federal political representatives.

Ensure that our members are informed of the negative impacts of such trade deals.

Demand that all current and future trade agreements undergo a full and transparent evaluation of the social, environmental and labour impact of the proposed agreement prior to negotiations.

Insist that the federal and provincial governments ensure trade agreements do not interfere with the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, protect existing public services or create new social programs.

Demand that trade agreements not force federal, provincial or municipal governments to open public procurement to foreign companies.

Rationale:

These agreements that are generally referred to as “free trade deals” only accord freedoms to corporations bent on maximizing profits.and they are generally negotiated in secret and remove the freedom of citizens to pass laws in their own countries that protect industrial development, human rights and the environment.

The consequences of these deal are suppressed wages, deteriorating working conditions, rising carbon emissions that exacerbate climate change and the erosion of public services.

Approved AGM May 2016
Reviewed May 2018

  • My union is built on our members. The strength, understanding and unity of the membership determine my union’s course and its advancements.
  • The members who make up my union and pay its dues are the ones to determine the right path for my union in our own interests, the interests of our union and in the interests of all the people.
  • An informed and alert membership gives my union its power. My participation in the organization, negotiations, strikes, contract enforcement, local executive, education (formal and informal), member engagement and every other aspect of union life is indispensable to union solidarity.
  • The strength of my union is built on setting aside internal differences and issues to combine for the common cause of advancing the interests of the membership. No union can successfully fulfill its purpose if it allows itself to be distracted by any issue which causes division and undermines the unity which all labour must have in the face of the employer.
  • My union believes that workers are indivisible. My union celebrates our diversity which include age, race, colour, creed, ancestry, religious or political belief, gender, ability, family status or sexual orientation. Any division among the membership that pits worker against worker interferes with the power of my union.
  • My union helps any member in times of distress. My union is more than my contract. This is a daily guide in the life of my union and its individual members.
  • Conditions of work, security of employment and benefits for members and their families are of equal importance as wages.
  • It is important for my union to organize the unorganized, in the interest of our memberships and of working people everywhere.
  • My basic aspirations and desires are the same as any worker in the world. Inter-union and international union solidarity are crucial in sharing union research, education and actions of solidarity and affiliation with each other.
  • My union looks beyond self-interest in the social and economic conditions of the communities in which we live. My union must support efforts that make communities and society a better place and promote change for the overall benefit of humanity.

Reviewed May 2018 Convention

HSAA will strive to improve provincial law protecting all workers from workplace violence; and

HSAA will engage in elevating the broader education of workers and the general population on the issues related to violence in the workplace; and

HSAA will monitor the implementation of federal Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1; and

HSAA will support the campaign to secure a new, legally binding, International Labour Organization Convention to end violence and harassment at work; and

HSAA will press the federal government to support this ILO Convention and the ratification of an anticipated progressive convention in the future.

HSAA will continue to work to develop collective bargaining language that insists that employers keep our members safe.

Rationale:

HSAA is committed to the right of every worker to enjoy a safe workplace, free from violence.

Some workers are put at risk of violence needlessly. Statistics Canada

estimates there are about 350,000 cases of workplace violence each year in Canada.

Often employers do not take the necessary steps to prevent violence in the workplace and there needs to be more work done to campaign for better protection for workers.

Even the definition of violence in the workplace is sometimes a problem. Workplace violence is not limited to physical assaults. Any act where a worker is subjected to abuse, threats, intimidation, bullying, harassment, or actual assault should be considered an act of workplace violence.

Employers need to assess their workplace for possible risk factors for violence. They must also broadly interpret the workplace to include the space beyond the traditional workplace if employees are mobile and doing work-related activities offsite, or while they are in transit for work.

Assessing workplaces for increased risk of violence includes assessing the types of work that put workers at increased risk, including working under stressful conditions, working with unstable or volatile people, carrying out enforcement or inspection services, handling prescription drugs or money, or serving alcohol.

The risk of violence in the workplace can also be increased if the worker is alone when work is done late in the evening, or in the early morning, or if a host of mitigating factors exist, such as dealing with an at-risk population.

It is also very clear that gender is an issue in workplace violence, and that domestic violence can also impact the workplace, increasing risk.

Employers, beyond doing a risk assessment, also need to implement procedures to deal with workplace violence. This includes being able to do initial investigative reports if necessary and to have properly trained personnel to deal with complaints. In fact, all workers should have violence prevention and awareness training.

Workplaces also need to be able to deal with violence should the preventative steps fail. This means having contingencies on how to deal with violent perpetrators and ensuring workers are briefed on what to do in the event of a violent incident.

Approved June 2019

HSAA will:

Ensure that all HSAA representatives on any external committee will be appointed by an appropriate governing body of the union

Seek to include strong language ensuring this union right in all collective agreements.

Rationale:

HSAA believes that in order for a member to represent the union’s position, they must be engaged in their union and be given authority to represent their union by a body that has been democratically elected by the membership.

HSAA believes that no individual understands the work of our members better than our members themselves. As front-line workers, our members are in the best position to suggest best practices and to identify issues as they arise.

HSAA also believes that HSAA members should participate and represent their union in certain undertakings by labour organizations, community groups and our social justice partners.

HSAA encourages our members’ employers to consult our members as they develop and implement workplace policies and best practices.

HSAA recognizes that, when appropriate, staff may be assigned as representatives of members.

HSAA also believes that HSAA members and staff be compliant with our Mission Statement and Strategic Plans and Goals whenever they are representing HSAA.

Approved May 2018 Convention
Approved May 2018
Amended May 2021

HSAA will review and renew its various members’ awards recognizing members making outstanding contributions in a number of areas, as they see fit; and

HSAA will approve the awards in time to publish the criteria and call for submissions in January 2020 so that these can be first awarded at convention in 2020.

Rationale:

HSAA’s members are doing amazing work within the union and within the broader community,

HSAA currently has only one recognition award for its members,

The work of HSAA members often goes unrecognized,

An important part of engaging members is recognizing their work.

Approved June 2019

HSAA will:

Consider the impact of the workplace and working conditions on the overall physical and mental health of workers when negotiating collective agreements and in other advocacy efforts with employers; and

Work to advance total worker health initiatives by advocating for changes to employment standards, WCB and OHS legislation that recognize the link between workplace factors and worker illness.

Rationale:

Work is a social determinant of health; job-related factors such as wages, hours of work, workload and stress levels, interactions with coworkers, access to leave and healthful workplaces all can have an important impact on the well-being of workers, their families and their communities and

Scientific evidence shows that risk factors in the workplace can contribute to health problems previously consider unrelated to work including obesity, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, mental health and other health conditions and

The total worker health approach focuses on how environmental workplace factors can both mitigate and enhance overall worker health beyond traditional workplace health and safety concerns.

Approved 2021 Convention

HSAA will insist that, as a first step, all levels of government fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action with particular attention on monitoring, promoting, and supporting the immediate completion to those dealing with child welfare, education, health, and justice; and

HSAA will demand that federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments immediately begin working to ensure every Indigenous community has reliable access to safe drinking water; and

HSAA will continue to support the work of the Native Women’s Association of Canada on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) to facilitate healing and end violence against Indigenous women; and

HSAA will encourage governments to engage in meaningful dialogue and take purposeful action to revisit Treaty relationships, letting the spirit and intent of international relations that First Nations originally entered into these contracts become the foundation of restoring fairness and equitability through sharing land and resources between Indigenous and settler peoples.

Rationale:

Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released their findings in December 2015 and 94 Calls to Action regarding reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples of Canada; and

For Canadians of all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together and that there can be no truth without discussing Treaty and land; and

True reconciliation goes beyond recognizing the abuses inflicted by the residential school system and healing survivor trauma; it acknowledges the ongoing nature and impact of colonialism and actively works to remove it; and

Intergenerational trauma caused by colonialism, current policies, and the residential school system is continuing to affect Indigenous people; and

Canadians must commit to an ongoing process of reconciliation that include conversations about Treaty obligations and responsibilities; and

Only with all of us working together will we be able to restore, repair, and move forward in the healing process.

Board Approved June 2019
Amended May 2021

HSAA will commit to fighting for a living wage for all Albertan’s including advocating for a living wage for young workers.

HSAA will be public in declaring our opposition to precarious employment and other forms of exploitive labour practices.

HSAA will continue to advocate on behalf of young workers to establish acceptable health and safety standards within the workplace.

Rationale:

Young workers are the future and should be empowered to continue the advocacy of the union with support from union leadership at all levels.

HSAA’s mission statement says that we will enhance the quality of life of its members and society.

Each day in Canada, multiple Young Workers are injured on the job. Statistics have shown that new workers have a higher rate of injury across multiple occupations, especially during the first six months of employment.

Amended, May 2021 Convention

Precarious Work:Non-standard or temporary employment that may be poorly paid, insecure, unprotected, and unable to support a household.

HSAA will continue to lobby against privatization of all public services.

HSAA will educate our members and Albertans on the critical role that public services play in our economy and in communities.

Rationale:

  • public services are integral in a healthy and fair society
  • public services provide essential services when Albertans need them most.
  • an effective public service strengthens the economy and empowers government to make positive changes in society.
  • privatization of public services leads to higher costs and decreased services for the public.
  • privatization takes money out of communities and is used to attack workers’ wages and benefits.

Approved at Convention May 2019

HSAA will continue to lobby against privatization of all public services.

HSAA will educate our members and Albertans on the critical role that public services play in our economy and in communities.

Rationale:

Public services are integral in a healthy and fair society

Public services provide essential services when Albertans need them most.

An effective public service strengthens the economy and empowers government to make positive changes in society.

Privatization of public services leads to higher costs and decreased services for the public.

Privatization takes money out of communities and is used to attack workers’ wages and benefits.

Approved at Convention May 2019