Profile: Elisabeth Ballermann served as president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta from 1995 to 2016, representing about 24,000 health professionals in over 200 occupations. A lab technician and union activist, Ballermann also became active in Friends of Medicare shortly after becoming HSAA president. She also joined the board of the Parkland Institute. During her tenure at HSAA, a major focus was the fight against privatization of health services. HSAA lab technicians, for example, suffered major pension losses as governments privatized their jobs with the contracted-out service providers not required to maintain their pensions. The fight against privatization mobilized thousands of Albertans in 2000 against Bill 11, which allowed private clinics to perform overnight surgeries. That mobilization forced the government to modify the bill, but did not stop the Progressive Conservative effort to privatize as much of medical care services as possible with a view to creating two-tier medical care (a for-profit service competing with a public service). Ballermann became a tireless spokesperson for protection and extension of universal medical care with equal services to all citizens.
Under Ballermann’s leadership, HSAA joined the National Union of Public and General Employees. Ballermann became vice-president both of NUPGE and the Alberta Federation of Labour. After leaving the presidency of HSAA, Ballermann moved to Ottawa to become the secretary-treasurer of NUPGE, retiring in 2019.
Keywords: Bill 11; Lab technicians; National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE); Pensions; Privatization; Two-tier medicine.
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