Alberta Seniors, COVID-19 and the Federal Government
Jan 28, 2021, 7 – 9 pm
The Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan New Democrat Electoral District executive has planned this panel discussion as its annual public service event. Good evening.
I am Carol Wodak, Vice Chair of the executive, and my role is to introduce you to this event.
The issue we chose this year was obvious. Headlines consistently report that more than two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths occur in long term care facilities.
Our task this evening is to explore the landscape in which this disaster has occurred, so we can work out what needs fundamental change and how we can achieve that – because if it repeats, it will have done so with our implied consent.
Bill Cook and Trish Agrell-Smith are the administrators of this event and will explain how it all works so no one gets left behind.
Aidan Theroux, a member of our executive and our candidate in the 2019 federal election, is the moderator of the panel presentations and the discussions.
Our expert panelists have generously agreed to provide their expertise and experience and to respond to audience questions at the end of their. We’ll hear from
• Ms. Sandra Azocar. Executive Director of Friends of Medicare and Ms. Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta, to describe the state of Alberta continuing care, and
• Ms. Patricia Paradis, Executive Director, Centre for Constitutional Studies, University of Alberta to discuss provincial and federal jurisdiction and relationships in continuing care,
• Dr. Pat Armstrong. Distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at York University and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, to discuss what we need to do.
Patricia Paradis is the Executive Director of the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the University of Alberta where she manages the Centre’s research and public education mandates about all things constitutional. She holds a law degree and a master’s degree in education, both from the University of Alberta. Patricia has had a lengthy career as a human rights educator and advisor and has served as the Chair or Board Director on several boards, notably as National Chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) from 1995-1999. She is currently National Chair of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Dispute Resolution Section Executive, Past Chair of the CBA Constitutional and Human Rights Section Executive, and a Board Director with the Parkland Institute, and the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. She is a recipient of a Women in Law Leadership (WILL) Award (2018) for her work in the community as well as a LifeTime Achievement Award from LEAF (2010).
We’ve appreciated her work in support of important equality Charter challenges in court, and as a public educator and link between academia and the community. Under Pat’s guidance, the Centre has been generous with public speaker series and events, and with plain-language articles about the Constitution and the Charter.
Heather Smith has been president of the United Nurses of Alberta, which represents more than 30,000 Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and allied workers, since 1988. Last Monday, January 25th, was the 33rd anniversary of the great 1988 Alberta nurses’ strike. Then as now, the government was demanding serious cuts in benefits, pay and hours. The government of the day used the courts to try to force nurses back to work. But the United Nurses of Alberta held on and fought for weeks, even after the government tried to break them with nearly $500,000 in fines and both criminal and civil contempt of court charges. In the end, the UNA won a new collective bargaining agreement on February 13 and secured a much better deal for nurses across the province in contract negotiations in 1990.
During the tough austerity years of the mid-1990s, Heather was an important leader in the province-wide effort to protect Alberta’s health care system from political efforts to open it to for-profit private hospitals and other forms of two-tier health care.
In 2007 she received the Spirit of Tommy Douglas Award in 2007 for her commitment to the dreams of the late Saskatchewan premier and creator of Canadian medicare. When thousands of Albertans rallied against the proposed Bill 11 on the steps of the Legislature in Edmonton, a prominent politician responded disparaging Smith and other nurse leaders as “left-wing nuts,” Heather recalls how “we immediately went to all the hardware stores, buying up wing nuts, put a little yellow ribbon through it and selling them for $2 to raise funds for medicare.
She was a member of the Canadian Nurses Association’s National Expert Commission, established in May 2011 and which delivered its final report, A Nursing Call to Action: The health of our nation, the future of our health system, in the fall of 2012.
From 1983 to 1988 she served as a board member of Alberta Friends of Medicare and has been a member of the boards of Public Interest Alberta [as well as its Seniors Task Force] and the Parkland Institute since their inception.
Heather Smith is an effective leader and spokesperson, not just for her union’s members but for any Albertan who uses the health care system – which is all of us!
Sandra Azocar is Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, on the Board of Public Interest Alberta and a member of its Seniors Task Force. Her previous experience is working as a child protection worker, a community organizer, and a labour activist. Prior to coming to Friends of Medicare, she served as a Vice President of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). She was a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Medicare for 6 years before becoming its Executive Director in 2012. FOM is a non-partisan provincial coalition of individuals, service organizations, social justice groups, unions, associations, churches and other organizations whose goal is to raise public awareness on concerns related to Medicare in Alberta and Canada.
Her job includes lobbying and advocating for better health care on a community and provincial level, and on the national level with seven health coalitions representing concerned Canadians from PEI to British Columbia. She’s often interviewed by the media, makes amazing written submissions, appears at or leads community events, and collects and brings important information about health care and health policy to our attention. Her 2020 year-end report is a valuable record of Alberta’s recent history in health and seniors’ care, documenting the flood of issues raised by our new and enthusiastic government in its war on public health care. Sandra and her communications director Alyssa do amazing work to protect the public interests in our health care system.
A few years ago, Sandra and I were part of a small group who occupied the Health Minister’s office over proposed changes to the seniors’ drug plan. There is no better companion for a long evening of waiting for the police.
Pat Armstrong is Distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at York and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She held a CHSRF/CIHR Chair in Health Services and Nursing Research and chaired Women and Health Care Reform, a group funded for over a decade by Health Canada. She has served as both Chair of the Department of Sociology at York and Director of the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton. She is also a board member of the Canadian Health Coalition and of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She was Principal Investigator of the 10-year study “Reimagining Long-term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices” as well as of numerous other research projects’. Focusing on the fields of social policy, of women, work and the health and social services, she has published such books on health care as The Privatization of Care: The Case of Nursing Homes; Wash, Wear and Care. Clothes and Laundry in Long-term Care; Troubling Care; Critical to Care the Invisible Women in Health Services; Wasting Away; The Undermining of Canadian Health Care. Much of this work makes the relationship between paid and unpaid work central to the analysis and is carried out in partnership with unions and community organizations.
Most recently, Pat has been central in the conversation about how to improve continuing care systems and services, culminating in the Policy Alternatives document A Higher Standard, which she co-authored with Marcy Cohen. More of her publications with Policy Alternatives can be found here. We are so pleased that Pat has agreed to be with us this evening.
If you missed the Alberta Seniors, COVID-19 and the Federal Government, January 28, 2021 Webinar, you could catch the recording of the speaker presentations: Alberta Seniors, COVID-19 and the Federal Government above…
Join Friends of Medicare and Manitoba Health Coalition, with guests Heather MacPherson (MP for Edmonton-Strathcona) and Peter Julian (MP for New Westminster-Burnaby) as we discuss Bill C-213 and the need for a national, universal pharmacare plan!
WHEN: February 17, 2021, 5:00 pm MST/6:00 pm CST
WHERE: Online (access via telephone is also available)
This online event is free and open to the public, but registration is required—Reserve your spot!
Webinar on Campaign for Public Healthcare What you can do to Help from Eyes Forward Alberta
Hi, you are invited to a Zoom webinar to learn about the next steps of the campaign.
We look forward to updating you, introducing some of our new leadership team members, and finding out how you can help protect public healthcare.
We are offering the same webinar twice.
When: Feb 10, 2021 7:30 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
When: Feb 13, 2021 15:30 Mountain Time (US and Canada)
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Luanne, Mary, and Kate
Speaker: Eric M. Adams, Vice Dean and Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta What is the line between constitutionally-protected dissent and the protection of worksites, workplaces, and workers? […]
Oops, I missed this! I expect and hope it will be available at
CCPA 2021-02-06 Over the past month, the Ottawa office released two critical reports: the 2021 CEO compensation report The Golden Cushion and Picking up the Tab, a complete accounting of federal and provincial COVID-19 spending.
Picking up the Tab provided a much-needed accounting of the emergency programs introduced since the beginning of the pandemic. David Macdonald’s thorough analysis revealed that, when it comes to funding the recovery, the federal government is doing the heavy lifting. But many provinces aren’t accepting the help; in fact, a majority of the provinces have left billions in COVID-19 funds on the table.
The Brentwood Care Centre in Calgary is facing a a $25-million proposed class-action lawsuit.
Alberta’s long-term care homes are pressing the provincial government to protect them from lawsuits related to COVID-19 outbreaks, which they argue could make it impossible to get insurance and continue operating.
The Alberta Continuing Care Association, or ACCA, is lobbying the provincial government to consider legislation similar to a law passed in Ontario last year, which faced criticism for making it more difficult for relatives and residents to sue for failures related to COVID-19.
There have been several class action lawsuits already filed against operators in Alberta, which has had the highest proportion of care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks in the country…
… There have been outbreaks at almost three-quarters of the province’s facilities – by far the highest rate in Canada – according to the National Institute on Ageing, a Ryerson University think tank. Nationally, the institute says, long-term care residents account for 69 per cent of all deaths, with 43 per cent of facilities