Vegreville care workers approve new 7-year contract

These workers have been without a new contract for over 5 years, ever since their previous one expired in March 2018.

Last week, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees published an update regarding contract negotiations for continuing care workers in Vegreville.

These roughly 30 workers are employed by St. Michael’s Health Group, which is based out of Edmonton, at the company’s Vegreville Manor.

According to AUPE, an unspecified majority of workers recently voted to ratify the tentative agreement the bargaining team had negotiated with the employer.

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Until now, these workers have been without a new contract for over 5 years, ever since their old contract expired in March 2023.

At the end of May, the employer had proposed a 7-year contract with wage freezes in the first 4 years, 2% increases in both 2022 and 2023, and a “me too” increase in 2024, the final year of the contract.

A ‘me too’ provision means the employer offered the same wage increase as provided to AUPE workers employed with Alberta Health Services, who will be in bargaining next year.

After pushback from the workers’ bargaining team, the employer came back with significant improvements.

There were still wage freezes for the first 4 years, but the increases in 2022 and 2023 were now 4–6% each year, and the “me too” increase for 2024 was changed to 2%.

ILA (HCA)*Other
* Independent living assistant (with a health care aide certificate)

Workers will also receive a 1% one-time lump sum payment based on all the hours they worked in 2021.

St. Michael’s Health Group has agreed to, by the end of the new contract, increase the health spending account of these workers by an extra $200, on top of the total $350 it has been at since 2017. The increase will take place in two installments, one this September and the other next April.

The new contract also contains an additional special leave day with pay.

Finally, the new contract includes improvements to language and wording regarding union recognition, respectful workplace, the Employee Management Advisory Committee, and health and safety.

The union is just waiting to hear back from the employer’s bargaining team to make sure the employer approves of the tentative agreement, before it is finalized.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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