Saturday, October 31, 2020

United Conservative Party government staffers to take pay cut as Alberta’s healthcare services plunged into chaos

United Conservative Party government staffers to take pay cut as Alberta's healthcare services plunged into chaos

Throwing Alberta’s health care system into chaos isn’t easy.

It takes hard work and sacrifice.

But thanks to the United Conservative Party’s front-line fighters in the war against fair and efficient public health care, what even Ralph Klein couldn’t achieve is finally happening: Clinical chaos! Hospital havoc! Medical mayhem!

Just yesterday, we learned that the UCP’s political staffers will have to take a pay cut to pave the way for more turmoil in health care.

The cuts will hit political staff working for the government of Alberta, including press secretaries, chiefs of staff, junior policy advisors and other staffers in the premier’s office.

These folks’ jobs aren’t easy. These dedicated men and women strive mightily to hound the defenders of public health care from Facebook to Twitter and beyond.

If a young physician criticizes the efforts of UCP leaders like Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro to complete the work of Ralph Klein and throw Alberta’s public health care system into utter pandemonium in the middle of a global pandemic, someone has to stay up all night trolling her, tweeting photos of her children, until she finally decides to leave the province.

Devoting hours to calling doctors and union members liars and communists is a hard, dirty job, but the managers of the government of Alberta’s Facebook force are prepared to do it.

And now they’re going to have to do it for less, an acknowledgement that UCP apparatchiks can tighten their belts as well as any hospital porter making $19 an hour! Better, actually, because some of these issues managers wear very big belts!

But they’re going to take a seven-per-cent pay cut, no matter who their dad is, to make sure there can be just a little more chaos in Alberta’s health care facilities, or at least so that voters will stop thinking about what might happen after the UCP fires 11,000 health care workers, mostly women, and gets ready to lay off seven or eight thousand nurses once the pandemic goes away.

And they’ll be doing it with determined smiles on their faces, even if it means they have to go without a new Rolex or stick with a nearly obsolete iPhone 11 Pro Max for another couple of months.

But despite their sacrifice, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to finally tip the whole public system over the edge into the abyss, and the sacrifice will be worth it. Remember, even Premier Klein couldn’t do that, and he’s practically a saint now!

Fortunately for them, even with the “indefinite” pay cut — which means it’s temporary, they just don’t know when it will end — they’ll still be making more than the NDP used to pay its staffers.

It’ll be tough, though. Alberta’s public health-care system is full of nurses, physicians and support workers who will put up with almost any outrage, suffer almost any indignity, ignore almost any insult to continue to heal the sick, no matter who they are or how little money they have.

So wrecking something staffed by people like that is going to be a struggle.

But the UCP’s political staff, the ones paid by your provincial tax dollars anyway, are willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

So on Monday, when their wallets are just a little bit thinner, we all need to remember to send them our thoughts and prayers.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald.

Image: Jason Kenney/Screenshot of Twitter video

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