Essential services legislation welcomed by HSAA

Health care professionals are committed to ensuring safety of Albertans

Edmonton (16 March 2016) — Essential services legislation introduced by the Alberta government on March 10 strikes a reasonable balance between the need to protect the health and safety of Albertans and the rights of workers, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

“The 24,000 health care professionals who belong to HSAA/NUPGE have always been committed to ensuring the health and safety of Albertans. We take this professional obligation seriously and this will never change,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President.

Negotiating essential services far better than government imposing conditions

“We believe the government is taking the right approach by having the employers and health care workers negotiate agreements on what essential services means, rather than imposing something from above. No one is more qualified to discuss the essential nature of care than the front-line and emergency workers who actually deliver that care. Involving us in the process is vital,” she says.

It is now incumbent on unions and employers to work together to craft agreements outling which workers are essential and which workers have the right to strike in a way that complies with legislation, ensures that the health and safety of Albertans and protects the basic rights of workers.

“Labour rights are human rights and our labour laws need to be updated to meet the standards of international law and labour conventions. We agree with the Supreme Court of Canada that change is necessary and believe that it is long overdue. While Bill 4 is the direct result of a ruling by the Supreme Court, we look forward to an equally progressive approach to the broader review of labour legislation that was part of the election platform of the Notley government," says Ballermann.

HSAA/NUPGE applauds restrictions on use of replacement workers

The  HSAA/NUPGE also welcomes the restriction on the use of replacement workers in disputes with employers that is proposed in Bill 4, An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services.

“The use of replacement workers tilts the playing field in favour of employers and at the expense of workers. It often leads to more workplace conflicts and prevents good agreements from being made. Restrictions on replacement workers will avoid the escalation of conflict that is the inevitable result, so that a freely negotiated settlement can result,” says Ballermann.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE