Cold Lake Workers Standing Up for Quality Care
Holiday traditions were disrupted for 40 Points West Living Cold Lake seniors care workers who have been braving the cold on the picket line since their employer locked them out at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2016. They are standing up for a fair contract that addresses serious concerns including short-staffing, scheduling and training that are impacting the quality of care for residents at their workplace.
Their resolve has shone a light on the many problems at Points West Living facilities and is also exposing the deeper crisis in Alberta’s seniors care system that allows for-profit operators to pocket public funds with no transparency or accountability. The outcome of their struggle could help to raise standards for many more seniors care workers across the province as well broaden the call for quality care for all Alberta seniors.
Let Points West Living and government representatives know that this situation is unacceptable and add your voice to the growing number calling for quality seniors care and fairness for seniors care workers.
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Did You Know?
Points West Living (PWL) is one of the most profitable and fastest growing for-profit seniors providers operating in Alberta. They receive millions in taxpayer funding, but retain a portion as profit and refuse to publicly disclose how they are using this money.
AUPE represents over 160 PWL employees at four facilities who have been bargaining with their employer for a fair contract, in some cases for over a year. Instead of negotiating respectfully, the company locked out its employees at its Cold Lake facility on Dec. 16, 2016.
After a sale in 2015 valued at approximately $100 million, all PWL sites are owned by the same Ontario-based company. In the year before the sale, PWL profits increased 46 per cent, rising from $864,593 to $1,262,636. The company expects to increase its value to $500 million over the next three to five years.
PWL’s CEO Doug Mills, Vice-President of Operations George Rath and Vice-President of Human Resources and Administration Paul Melanson each own an 8.3 per cent share in Points West Inc. profits in addition to their regular salaries and additional compensation. In 2015, these bonuses were set at $175,000 for Rath and Melanson and $250,000 for Mills.
Between 2008 and 2013, PWL received more than $32 million dollars of public funding to build six facilities, as well as operating funding of $25,000-$65,500/per bed and additional funding for medical equipment and facility upgrades.
The majority of Points West Living staff work on a part-time or casual basis, making wages well below industry standards. A low-wage, casual approach to staffing hurts the quality of care for residents, because poor staff retention prevents long-term relationships between seniors and their caregivers from flourishing.