Why Alberta Hospital Workers Engaged in Wildcat Strikes
It’s your boy Jeremy (@JeremyAppel1025) here to guide you through the day’s top news stories for October 27. How you been? Have you been doomscrolling?
Today we’ve got: spontaneous wildcat strikes popping up across Alberta; the re-election of the Saskatchewan Party; the Liberals holding on to two Toronto-area seats; a new national survey on attitudes toward police.
Wildcat Strikes Across Alberta
Albertans woke up yesterday to news that hospital workers had reached a breaking point and were walking off the job at 45 workplaces across the province.
Hospitals’ cleaners, porters, food workers and nurse aides, in addition to other sympathetic workers, walked the picket lines Monday, but it’s unclear how many of them actually refused to show up to work and how many simply joined the picketing on break.
Context: The primary catalyst of this development was news that broke two weeks ago of the impending layoffs of more than 11,000 support staff at healthcare facilities, as well as the elimination of 800 front-line jobs through attrition, contracting out their jobs to the private sector.
The action wasn’t authorized by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents 58,000 healthcare workers, but it had the union’s full support, although workers reportedly returned to their jobs today.
The employer — Alberta Health Services — petitioned the Alberta Labour Relations Board to issue a emergency back-to-work order, which was unsurprisingly accepted.
From David Climenhaga’s Alberta Politics blog: For their part, AHS officials immediately warned strikers of harsh retribution: “Staff who choose to participate in illegal job action will be subject to disciplinary action and will not be granted amnesty,” said a memo to employees early in the day. Of course, such threats may have less impact on employees who face being laid off and having their jobs contracted out to private companies.
The spontaneous action, of which it’s unclear how many workers participated in, earned solidarity from the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Labour, United Nurses of Alberta, CUPE Alberta and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
Leader of Opposition Rachel Notley called the action “deeply concerning,” which is an odd response for the leader of a party founded in part by organized labour.
- Saskatchewan’s right-wing eponymous party won re-election last night in a widely-anticipated landslide, taking a projected 50 of 61 seats, with 63.13 per cent of the vote. The other 11 seats were held by the NDP.
- It was the Saskatchewan Party’s fourth consecutive majority government. The last time a party pulled off this type of success in Saskatchewan, it was the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation of Tommy Douglas, which won five consecutive majorities from 1944 to 1964.
- The Wexit-affiliated Buffalo Party came in third place with 2.9 per cent of the vote, placing second in some ridings. In his victory speech, Premier Scott Moe told the separatists, “We share your frustrations and we share many of your goals.”
- Context: Saskatchewan’s was the third provincial election to occur under the backdrop of COVID-19, following New Brunswick and British Columbia. In each case, the incumbent party was returned to power with a strengthened mandate.
- Yesterday was also the date of two Toronto by-elections, both of which the Liberals held on to.
- The byelection in Toronto Centre was prompted by the resignation of former finance minister Bill Morneau, while the one in York Centre was the result of former MP Michael Levitt stepping down to run the right-wing, ultra-Zionist Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
- Liberal Marci Ien, a former TV host, won Toronto Centre with 42 per cent of the vote, a significant decrease from last year when Morneau received 57 per cent. This is likely due to the exceptionally strong showing of newly-minted Green Party leader Annamie Paul, who received nearly 33 per cent.
- In York Centre, the results were extremely close, with Liberal Ya’ara Saks ekeing out a 700-vote victory over Conservative Julius Tiangson, with 45.7 per cent of the vote to Tiangson’s 41.8 per cent.
- Context: Both ridings are regarded as Liberal strongholds in “Fortress Toronto,” so a loss in either would be seen as a significant rebuke to the governing party.
A new poll of more than 5,000 Canadians from Angus Reid shows 75 per cent agree there’s an issue with the way police interact with non-white people, with 39 per cent saying there’s a serious problem.
But the poll also reveals a stark regional divide.
From the Star: Those who live in rural areas were half as likely as those in urban areas to see a serious problem with police interactions with Canadians of colour in their communities.
In urban centres, the perception of the problem was highest in Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg and Montreal, with 36 to 41 per cent of residents saying it’s a serious problem.
Ontario was the province with the most residents (39 per cent) to perceive a serious problem. It also was the province with the highest number of people (32 per cent) who said police funding should be reduced in their communities.
People in Alberta and Saskatchewan are more likely to dismiss systemic racism in law enforcement, while those in Ontario and Manitoba are more likely to endorse the Defund the Police movement.
British Columbians tend to be more ambivalent about the police, while Quebecois, and those in Newfoundland and Labrador, are supportive of the police, but less outspoken about it than their Prairie counterparts.
With regards to police budgets, 38 per cent of respondents said the amount of money spent on policing their community was “about right,” while 25 per cent thought it should be reduced and 19 per cent said it should be increased.
The starkest contrast, however, was with regards to political affiliation. Only 13 per cent of Conservative voters think the way police interact with communities of colour is a major issue, compared with 55 per cent of Liberals and 67 per cent of New Democrats.
Dig Deeper: Here’s why people are calling to defund and abolish the police – read more
That’s a wrap on your Passage Daily for October 27. Check your inbox tomorrow for more news from a perspective you won’t get elsewhere.