Statement to the Media from AgeCare Group of Companies



    CALGARY, April 3 /CNW/ - The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE)
has recently made comments in the news containing false information about the
contract negotiations between AgeCare Group of Companies (AgeCare) and its
employees at Valleyview Care Centre, Seniors Aging in Place Facility, in
Medicine Hat.
    It was never AgeCare's intention to negotiate in the media; however, it
is clear that AUPE has not provided us with the same courtesy. We can no
longer stand by as the union spreads false information as fact. AUPE insists
on attacking the profits of AgeCare and the integrity of its board members.
These accusations are a red herring that takes us away from the real issue,
which is ensuring that Valleyview residents are receiving appropriate care
during this period of strike action.
    At AgeCare, our residents are our number one priority. As a long-term
care provider we have an obligation and a duty to properly care for the
residents who have chosen Valleyview as their home. That is why we have taken
the following interim steps to ensure that residents continue to receive the
quality of care that they deserve:

    
    1.  We have brought in qualified replacement workers from other AgeCare-
        owned facilities across the province to replace striking workers at
        the Valleyview Care Centre. We know that this is not an ideal
        situation for our residents. It is difficult to adjust to a change in
        the caregivers that they are used to seeing on a regular basis. We
        regret this, and it is our hope that the issue will be resolved soon.

    2.  While these interim workers are present at Valleyview, we have asked
        Alberta Health Services and Alberta Seniors to monitor the quality of
        care at the facility to ensure that residents continue to receive the
        level of care required under provincial legislation.

    3.  We meet with our residents every morning to address any concerns
        about the care they are receiving during this strike action. We take
        these concerns seriously and respond in a timely matter. There is
        also a complaint resolution process in place for both residents and
        their families should they choose a more formalized route.
    

    The AUPE has disputed the compensation of Valleyview workers and we agree
that our staff deserves an increase. That is why AgeCare has offered
Valleyview employees an increase of 14 per cent in year one and four per cent
over the next two years of the proposed contract, for a total compensation
increase of 22 per cent. This offer was rejected on March 13th and AUPE
members voted to strike, claiming the offer on the table wasn't high enough
and did not match with other long-term care facilities.
    It is true that wages range from facility to facility, depending on
operating costs, debt payment requirements and market conditions. Essentially
the offer rejected by the union was what AgeCare can afford to pay in order to
balance all of our operating costs and financial debt, while still providing
the standard of care we are committed to.
    AUPE has indicated that AgeCare is unwilling to negotiate. This is simply
not true. AgeCare is open to an alternative solution. However, the union has
made it clear that it is unwilling to bring forward another proposal. We have
tried to bring forward alternative options but the union refuses to budge from
its original position requesting approximately a 35% increase in year one. We
simply cannot meet its wage demands and still pay the bills required to keep
our facility running.
    The union has also argued that its workers cannot return to work. We
absolutely regret having to lock our doors. But let me be clear. We needed to
take this firm measure in order to bring in replacement workers when AUPE
voted to strike. It was not a decision that we took lightly but we were simply
not willing to let resident care suffer.
    This is not an ideal situation for anyone. We are hopeful that the union
will soon agree to return to the table with an alternative solution and
negotiate in the good faith and spirit that the residents of Valleyview
deserve.

    
    Dr. Kabir Jivraj
    Director, AgeCare Group of Companies
    Phone: 403-640-8770
    





For further information:

For further information: Dr. Kabir Jivraj, Director, AgeCare Group of
Companies, Phone: (403) 640-8770

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