Alberta Seniors Deserve Better Campaign

Friends of Medicare (FOM) and Public Interest Alberta (PIA) launched a joint campaign, Alberta Seniors Deserve Better, in March 2019 to put forward solutions to the problems facing seniors in the continuing care system. The campaign calls on the government to get profits out of seniors' care, and to enact patient-staff ratios to deal with the unsustainable workloads which lead to burnout for the staff, and degrade the quality of care and attention for seniors in care. The campaign was launched with four videos as well as a petition calling on all parties to make strengthening seniors' care a top priority.

"Albertans value public services, and they need to be strengthened, not cut" said Joel French, PIA Executive Director. "Our seniors deserve a robust public system that provides high quality care. Some politicians are promising tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthy, but our government should be focussed on investing in proper care for Alberta's seniors who have worked hard their entire lives to contribute to our province."

Noel Somerville, Vice Chair of PIA's Seniors' Task Force, who appears in one of the videos, stressed the importance of creating an easier-to-navigate continuing care system. "There are so many barriers to families seeking proper care for their loved ones, including a complex system of referrals. We need to build a system that is easy to access," he said.

"Staff in the seniors' care system are stretched incredibly thin. In some facilities, one staff person can be responsible for up to 30 residents," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of FOM. "Working conditions are care conditions. We need legislated staff-to-patient ratios to ensure quality care. Furthermore, we need to take the profit motive out of seniors' care. Private health care providers are putting more and more stress on seniors and their families by piling on out-of-pocket costs for essentials. Every dollar that goes into profit is one that's taken away from quality care for seniors. Alberta Seniors Deserve Better," Azocar said.

PIA points out that in the area of seniors' care, Alberta's seniors have long faced accessibility issues and increased privatization of care sold to the public under the guise of offering "choice" to patients and their families. "Rather than building or upgrading publicly operated long term care, the long-standing trend in Alberta has been to close public long term care facilities. This renders the promise of "choice" a mere illusion. Previous governments turned seniors' care into a hospitality industry, in which companies profit from those that need a hand. Slowly, we have transitioned to a system where more and more of the cost is passed down to the residents and their families."

Referring to Premier Notley's announcement that the NDP would add 2,000 new beds if re-elected, PIA pointed out that there has been no assurance that the beds would be publicly, not privately operated. Of 2,000 beds added since 2015, 1,700 are privately owned and operated.[1]

"We are calling for a fundamental cultural change in seniors' care, a move away from the culture of corporatization." says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "We are calling for changes in provincial policy to reflect the values of public health care, to embrace clear provincial standards that will improve access to care, and to establish ways of assessing quality of care that our seniors receive."

The videos can be seen at


1. Many of these beds were built under a program where private interests receive grants to subsidize the building of privately owned and operated supportive-living facilities. Others are private facilities which were not built by the government.

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 13 - April 13, 2019

Article Link:
Alberta Seniors Deserve Better Campaign


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