According to the press release, AUPE now represents 150 Auxiliary Nursing Care (ANC) employees at the Calgary facility, a classification that, according to the terminology incorporated into the collective agreements and certificates of the Alberta Labour Relations Council and used throughout Alberta`s health care system, includes licensed nurse practitioners (LPNs) and health aides (HCAs). Physicians collectively negotiate with the province for the Alberta Medical Association, but unlike other health workers, the legislation is not covered by Alberta`s labour relations. Established physicians are represented by the Professional Association of Established Physicians. However, some AAU members expressed concern about the assertion in the AUPE communiqué that the union represents health care workers, which gives the impression that it is the union for all nurses across Alberta. While United Nurses of Alberta is pleased that the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has organized Auxiliary Nursing Care employees at Wentworth Manor Care Home in Calgary, it is necessary to clarify some of the terms used in the February 5 AUPE press release that announce the success of their union efforts. The ADF believes that this does not recognize the changing scope of practices and ignores the reality that the Health Professions Act, which explicitly states that LPNs apply in their practice «care knowledge, skills and judgment to assess the needs of patients … Care for patients and families, and… limited activities permitted by the rules. Unfortunately, a previous bargaining meeting at the EPP for members of its ANC residents also gave the impression that the nurses employed by Alberta Health Services have not reached an agreement. On 15 February, ADA members will vote on an interim agreement that will provide comprehensive job security for NRAs and NRPs, represented by the AR, as well as an independent external evaluation committee to address patient/resident/client care issues. The AAU recognizes that the argument of many LPNs should be considered for direct care. However, answering this question would be a complex process involving contributions from unions, the provincial government and health care providers, including Alberta`s health services.
To date, employers, AUPE and the employment agency have stated that LPNs only provide «ancillary care» and do not provide «direct care.» The division of health care workers into standardized functional bargaining units has been a feature of labour relations in the health sector in Alberta for more than 30 years. While this has brought some stability to labour relations, it has not recognized the changes that have taken place over the years. Yet that is the current legal state of labour relations in Alberta today. While AUPE now represents LPNs in the ANC`s bargaining unit on most public health facilities and many private sites in Alberta, the AAU is the negotiator for members of the Direct Care Functional Unit, which includes Registered Nurses (NRAs) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (NPNs).