Response to Politicians: Melissa Christopherson, ORT-LPN (August 2020)

Response to Politicians: Melissa Christopherson, ORT-LPN (August 2020)

One of our members, Melissa, sent a letter to the Premier, Minister of Health, and her MLA, Nancy Heppner. Please read the Minister of Finance response here and MLA Nancy Heppner's response here. First off, Nancy’s response appears inaccurate  – MLAs have every responsibility to engage with their constituents. Other members may have received the same line that their MLAs are  “unable” to engage in discussion about collective bargaining, but there is absolutely no legislation that speaks to that – it’s simply their way of saying they don’t want to do their job and engage. Nancy did not even speak to the hardships Melissa described of working short and understaffing, which is not a collective bargaining issue, but a human rights issue for both the recipient of care and the care provider. 

And again, the Premier and Minister of Health are silent – they pass the buck to the Minister of Finance who simply states, “the best place for these matters to be worked out is at the bargaining table.”  While our members continue to convey the knowledge that it is the government who holds the purse strings, they will not engage. The answer? KEEP PUSHING – KEEP WRITING – KEEP CALLING – ORGANIZE. Politicians know an election is around the corner, and the more we engage with them, the more they can’t ignore us. Need help writing or re-writing a letter? Email actions@seiuwest.ca – we’re also kicking off our summer of action where health care providers will be holding info-pickets across the province – want to help organize one in your local community? Email actions@seiuwest.ca – you can read Melissa’s response here:  

Answer

Dear Premier Moe, MLA Nancy Heppner, Minister of Health Jim Reiter, and Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer:

I recently sent a letter to the Premier, Minister of Health, and my MLA, Nancy Heppner regarding the state of health care, and I’m hoping each of you will respond to my concerns.

From my MLA, I received a message that basically told me to not bother her. First off, being told that she’s is  “unable” to engage in discussion about collective bargaining is not accurate because to my knowledge, there is absolutely no legislation that speaks to that – if there is, please share that with me. But from what I gathered, it’s simply a way of saying my MLA doesn’t want to their job and engage with their constituent’s issues. Nancy did not even speak to the hardships I described around my fear of getting my family ill, workload concerns, and worry that health care is not attracting new team members – these issues are not collective bargaining issues, but are human rights issues due to the effects on residents, patients, and their staff.  Nancy, I hope that you respond to this letter with more understanding to the everyday challenges I face each and every day in health care.

Meanwhile, the Premier and Minister of Health are silent and did not respond to my letter – they passed the buck to the Minister of Finance who stated “the best place for these matters to be worked out is at the bargaining table.” 

My coworkers and I continue to convey the truth that it is the government who holds the purse strings to heath care. It’s past time for you to get involved and make sure we don’t have a strike on our hands.

And I urge you, please respond to the very real fears I and my fellow health care workers have around being the ‘guinea pigs’ in facing a pandemic – while our MLAs were able to work from home and close the legislature, we were on the front lines. As our elected officials, we expect better from you – have some empathy.

Sincerely,

Melissa Christopherson, constituent of Nancy Heppner