Monday July 28, 2014




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Tentative deal reached in labour dispute at Alberta seniors home

RED DEER, Alta. - A tentative deal has been reached in a strike-lockout at a central Alberta seniors home.

Staff at Symphony Aspen Ridge in Red Deer are to vote Saturday on the contract offer, said the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.

"We are pleased that a tentative agreement could be reached that both sides do find acceptable," union spokesman Tyler Bedford said Friday.

"All sides involved want to get back to work and get back to caring for the seniors at Aspen Ridge."

Details of the tentative contract were not released.

Nearly 130 care staff, including nurses and health-care aides, walked off the job Monday and were locked out the same day.

The main issue in the dispute was salaries. The company had said workers were seeking wage increases of more than 30 per cent over four years.

The union said its members wanted to be paid the same as workers who do similar jobs at hospitals and nursing homes.

Symphony CEO Lisa Brush said the tentative deal includes what she calls a "very generous" wage increase and hopes staff will be back at work Monday.

The company said last week that it was cancelling its contract with Alberta Health Services to fund 49 care beds at the facility. She said government funding isn't enough to cover costs.

The contract included 40 assisted living beds for dementia patients, four assisted living beds for non-dementia patients and five transition beds for people coming out of hospital.

Brush said that decision won't change, citing the wage offer in the tentative contract.

"This deal actually solidifies the fact that we will not be taking those funded beds," Brush said.

"The monetary part of this deal, particularly in the future, eliminates the possibility of providing funded beds."

Aspen Ridge has 157 residents and is privately owned and operated.

Brush said the contract with Alberta Health Services expires at the end of the year.

She said the company and the government agency will work together to help any seniors that choose to move to another care home.


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