The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) was organized in 1971-1972 by 11 paramedical technical and professional members who were reluctant to become a minority group within one of the large, existing labour unions. Their training, certification, and professional ethics suggested they had a unique community of interest with other health-care workers and they decided to establish an independent union that would be subject to their control and direction. George C. Hall, who was instrumental in the formation of HSAA, became its first executive director.
In 1972, a group of paramedical technical employees at the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton became the first bargaining unit represented by HSAA. The Canadian Red Cross was the first non-hospital bargaining unit, certified in 1974. The first private, for-profit employer unit was organized at Calgary Medical Laboratories in 1975 and in 1995, HSAA certified its first community health support unit at the Barons-Eureka-Warner Health Units.
In 2003, HSAA became the Alberta component of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), a federation of public service unions from across Canada. Through this affiliation, HSAA joined the Canadian Labour Congress and the Alberta Federation of Labour. Its members are also actively involved with the various District Labour Councils across Alberta.
The current president, Mike Parker, shifted into his role in August of 2016 after 21-year President, Elisabeth Ballermann, resigned her position to become Secretary-Treasurer of NUPGE. Trudy Thomson took over the office of Vice President just weeks later. Together, they lead the 18-member Board of Directors, who are the elected representatives of the membership from five districts.
Today, HSAA represents approximately 26,000 paramedical technical, paramedical professional and general support employees in more than 240 health-care disciplines.
Visit the Health Sciences Association site at https://www.hsaa.ca/
List of Oral Histories
Lesley Baker is a Calgary recreational therapist whose activities in HSAA spanned serving on the Board, chairing the Political Action Committee, and serving as a labour strategist for the United Way.