Recently, I have had the opportunity to reflect on our current Conservative government and I'm left with one resounding thought: this government is without a shadow of a doubt a bully. Looking back at the government's decisions since the last provincial election, I see a series of bully tactics that leave a sour taste in my mouth.
Whether considering their mismanagement of homecare workers in Alberta, their mistreatment of Alberta's prison guards, or their continued abuse of the province's agricultural workers, this government's actions - or lack thereof - demonstrate a complete disregard for the needs of average Albertans. Ours is a government that clearly only cares about one thing: themselves and the corporations who got them elected.
Homecare workers in Alberta have long sought a fair and reasonable contract. By "fair" and "reasonable", I mean only a contract that would allow them to enjoy some comfort at home and would enable them to come back to work with less personal stress weighing them down. Is that really so much to ask? I don't think so.
And yet, when homecare workers wanted to exercise their right to achieve such a contract, our bully government's reaction was to enlist the services of the Disputes Inquiry Board. By involving the board, the government essentially stripped dedicated Extendicare workers of their ability to bargain with their employer. Without a fair hearing of their concerns, homecare workers were required to take roll backs in wages, sick time and vacation time.
Did the quality of care being offered to patients by these workers even register for our government? It seems unlikely. But a bully rarely worries about what state you'll be in after they finish stealing your lunch money.
If we look at the Edmonton Remand Centre walkout, we see a management company and a government that again placed money before the safety of some of this province's most important workers. For months, Remand Centre security guards had been advocating for a number of health and safety changes in their workplace. However, these requests continued to fall on deaf ears.
When our bully government did intervene, it vilified the guards in an attempt to make them public enemy number one with Albertans, rather than taking their concerns seriously and working with the guards' union to address them. How dare these workers request a safer work environment at an already dangerous workplace!
Rather than being outraged that the Guards were consistently being placed in harm's way, Alberta's bully government was instead outraged that their indifference to the situation had been revealed.
And the government's actions since the Guards have returned to work show no better standards. Instead of living up its promises, the government is imposing sanctions and fines against the Guards, threatening to withhold their union dues, and even terminating some Guards to set an example.
Once again, we see a bully seeking retribution rather than resolution.
Finally, one particular group of workers this government has taken advantage of for years is Alberta's agricultural workers. Even following the many deaths we have seen in this line of work, our government has remained on the side of profits over people and does nothing to address these tragedies. In fact, while this industry is considered the most dangerous in the province, the government continues to exclude agricultural workers from simple rights like occupational health and safety and Alberta's employment standards.
It is the classic move of a bully to treat his or her victims as lesser people, undeserving of the basic courtesies of dignity and respect. True to form, this is exactly how Alberta's government continues to treat agricultural workers - they are good enough to work but not good enough have the basic rights afforded to so many others in this province.
When looking at the actions of the Alberta government I feel a deep embarrassment. This is not my government. And as they continue to relentlessly and consistently bully and attack those for whom they were elected to work, I am confident in saying that they do not represent the majority of Albertans.
I have dealt with a few bullies over the course of my life and not all of them were confined to the schoolyard. If there is one thing I have learned about standing up to bullies, it is that the answer to your problem lies in being what the bully will not: honest, upfront, and sincere.
So I will ask Premier Redford and the rest of her government a simple question: when will the bullying stop so you can start working with Albertans instead of against them?