Despite vaccine rollout boasts, AHS puts needless barriers in way of nurses’ vaccinations

For Immediate Release

Despite the Government of Alberta news release boasting about Alberta’s vaccine rollout for health care workers, Alberta Health Services is putting needless barriers in the way of nurses being vaccinated.

As a result, United Nurses of Alberta has filed a grievance against Alberta Health Services for a new policy requiring employees to use unpaid leave or vacation time to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“UNA’s provincial Collective Agreement with AHS and other employers has clear language indicating that medical appointments are, depending on the length of time needed, to be without loss of pay or charged against accumulated sick leave,” said David Harrigan, the union’s director of labour relations.

Despite the clear language of the collective agreement, Harrigan said, the employer is claiming that if the purpose of the medical appointment is to be vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they will not apply the collective agreement.

“It appears that this is being done in retaliation for UNA’s decision to decline to agree to the employer’s request to renew a Memorandum of Agreement that includes a pause on bargaining,” Harrigan said.

“In addition to being unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory and a violation of the collective agreement, by placing barriers to having health care workers vaccinated, the employer is putting the health, safety and lives of Albertans at risk,” he stated. “Putting up barriers to vaccination shouldn’t be used as a labour relations tactic.”

UNA is seeking:

  • A directive that the employer has violated the collective agreement and the Alberta Labour Relations Code
  • An order by an Arbitrator that the employer apply Article 19.11 of the collective agreement to all medical appointments, including those made to be vaccinated against the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
  • Appropriate punitive damages
  • Any other fair and appropriate redress