UCP DENIES AMENDMENTS TO IMPROVE SAFETY IN FREEDOM TO CARE ACT
EDMONTON – As the spring session for the Legislative Assembly of Alberta closes, the UCP denied amendments that would protect Albertans from Bill 58 Freedom To Care Act, leaving the door open for the UCP to compromise the safety of non-profit volunteers and residents in many long-term care homes.
The Bill, which was introduced in late March, would allow for the Government to grant any organization non-profit status and be temporarily exempt from regulations. This could lead to organizations skirting around rules in place for profit businesses regarding health, safety, food handling, other public health regulations and even wages and employee rights.
“What the UCP are proposing here has the potential to be quite scary,” said NDP Critic for Culture Nicole Goehring. “This Bill proposed sweeping exemptions to any regulation, including basic safety and even wages for paid-employees. That’s because the bill allows the Government to designate any organization, including big businesses, as a non-profit.
“The parameters in place for nonprofits are defined for good reason, and shouldn’t be abused by large corporations. This bill does not speak to real needs on the ground where the non-profits I talk to are looking for the UCP to restore grants and access to AGLC fund-raising.”
Alberta’s NDP proposed amendments to Bill 58 to improve protections for Albertans, including removing the Government’s ability to designate any entity as non-profit, and removing the ability for groups to receive exemptions from the Employment Standards
Regulation, which deals with minimum wages, and the Occupational Health and Safety Code.
Other amendments proposed by the NDP would stop the UCP’s ability to remove provisions in the Nursing Home Operation Regulation that require basic standards to be upheld including that long-term care centres have a Registered Nurse on duty 24 hours a day.
In a statement released by the United Nurses of Alberta, the group expressed support for the amendments proposed by the NDP and stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that long-term care centres in Alberta require enforced, minimum standards, and that not ensuring proper staffing levels can have deadly consequences.
“The removal of this provision, even on a temporary basis, could have severe consequences for the safety of residents living in long-term care centres,” said UNA President Heather Smith. “The minimum hours of care required in the Nursing Home regulations are not red tape, it is life-saving care.”
The UCP denied all 6 of the amendments to Bill 58 proposed by MLA Goehring.