"From tax fairness and labour rights, to keeping the blood supply public, to fighting for good pensions or more long-term care beds, these are all issues that need a common voice and a common front to ensure they are protected." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Edmonton (08 April 2019) — This year's Public Interest Alberta conference focused on bringing together community builders who are engaging in proactive advocacy for the public good. The conference was held on April 4 and 5 in Edmonton.
Participants heard from a number of speakers who focused on key issues facing our communities and organizations today. Poverty, equality, the value of public (not privatized) services, and just transition and the environment were explored.
Public services for the public good
During the session on Privatization and Austerity: Lessons from the UK, Allyson Pollock, director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, shared her experiences as a public health physician working in a highly privatized system of health care. She has become a leading authority on the fundamental principles of universal health systems, marketization and public-private schemes, as well as international trade law and health.
Campaigning for the country we want
In the concluding session, Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta discussed past, and the future, campaigns fighting for strong public services.
Ballermann explained that most members of NUPGE provide public services to communities across the country. "We've seen attacks of varying degrees, in every sector of public services. We've seen the push for privatization of services under the geise of 'cutting costs.' Heatlher and I have been around the block, fighting cuts of all sorts, including campaigning to protect public health care."
Ballermann showcased NUPGE and its Components' campaigns designed to protect public services. "From tax fairness and labour rights, to keeping the blood supply public, to fighting for good pensions or more long-term care beds, these are all issues that need a common voice and a common front to ensure they are protected from austerity measures, anti-labour governments, or those looking to profit off of someone else's hardship," Ballermann said. "By working together, we can fight for a better country for all of us."
Public Interest Alberta
Public Interest Alberta is a non-profit, non-partisan, province-wide organization focused on education and advocacy on public interest issues. PIA exists to foster an understanding of the importance of public spaces, services and institutions in Albertans' lives, and to build a network of people and organizations committed to advancing the public interest.