A look at Health Sciences Association of Alberta
By: Yanick Cote, Ryan Tomusiak and Robert Weldon
In Alberta, several healthcare unions work with Alberta Health Services to govern working
conditions for those providing medical services. Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) is one
example. For a biomedical engineering technologist, HSAA is important because it is the only healthcare
union that caters to the job. HSAA shows that its purpose is to assist workers through member benefits,
member dues, staff organization and job classifications.
Being a Member of HSAA:
HSAA acts as a buffer between you and your employer who provide new employees with a
contract outlining their responsibilities while they work for that employer. As well they work out other
terms and conditions for employment, once decided this contract cannot be changed for the duration of
the contract. HSAA also provides other services outside of initial employment ranging from occupational
health and safety to discounts and disability advocacy.
HSAA’s primary role is to provide professional representation to all their members whenever
they need it. To accomplish this HSAA has many well trained and experienced LROs, Labour Relations
Officers, are stationed in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge which cover all of Alberta. LROs help
members resolve issues with their employer, such as contract interpretation and disputes with
disciplinary actions including dismissal. LROs also investigate workplace safety issues that a member
may have been involved in. In addition HSAA provides workshops for members educating them in the
hazards in the work place and how to respond to them.
HSAA also provides some monetary assistance to its members. One of their programs is
designed to help those that are struck by hardships that would otherwise leave them bankrupt. For
example an individual that lost their home would qualify for some finical relief. Members of HSAA are
eligible for discounts on home and auto insurance as well as a family discount on LASIK vision correction.
Members can also receive mortgage rates lower then typically possible without assistance from HSAA.
HSAA has 2 staff members devoted to investigating disability claims for those who have been
injured in the workplace and need monetary compensation. They are experienced in this field and strive
to resolve the claim efficiently and effectively.
What about the Dues.
HSAA is an independent union and are very completive with only a 1.25% annual income fee.
The revenue gained from these dues goes towards the benefit of its members and its overall goals.
HSAA employ LROs and on occasion lawyers to resolve specific cases which are paid through members’
dues. Union dues are deductible meaning you will be receiving a direct tax cut. HSAA also provides
education benefit of $150 per year to help with costs of additional training.
Classification Lab Tech IPsychologist I
Annual Salary* $68,935 $85,117
Marginal Tax Rate# 32.00% 36.00%
HSAA dues (1.25%) $862 $1,064
Tax rebate $276 $383
Actual cost of annual dues $586 $681
Actual Monthly (after tax rebate) $48.83 $56.74
Monthly dues after Members' Education fund**$36.33 $44.24
* Calculated for a regular full-time employee at the top increment
** $150.00 per calendar year for discipline-related courses and conferences reduces dues by
HSAA will cover any additional costs if a member requires any service that is not provided by
HSAA including legal fees. HSAA is fully accountable and is audited annually. Members have access to
the budget and must approve any new changes to HSAA’s budget.
HSAA covers the entire province of Alberta and thus needs to be organized to provide its
services in an effective manner. To do this, HSAA created a single board of directors to govern and direct
operation of the union. First, each district excluding cities such as Edmonton and Calgary elects two
board members. These districts include southern, central and, northern districts. Next, the Edmonton
and Calgary districts each elect five members. Regular members for this board are selected on an annual
basis. Third, the executive, who consists of vice-presidents and the president, are responsible for
recommending policy and carrying on business if HSAA between meetings. The president is elected by
board members and serves for two year terms. The vice-presidents for finance, human resources and,
services are elected by board members each year. Finally, a number of standing and ad-hoc committees
perform various functions. These groups are also selected on an annual basis.
Classification Specification: Biomedical Equipment Technologist 1 (BMET 1)
The level 1 technologist is the entry level for a series of job classifications. HSAA states that the
purpose of a BMET 1 is to perform basic service and support to medical equipment to ensure both
reliability and safety. The BMET 1 performs basic and routine work on medical, biomedical, diagnostic
imaging and electronic equipment and systems under close technical supervision by a BMET 2. The
responsibilities and duties of a BMET 1 include:
• Conducts performance assurance testing including preventative maintenance.
• Identifies and resolves equipment malfunctions.
• Performs incoming inspection on assigned equipment.
• Verifies the performance and safety of the equipment, associated peripherals and the adequacy
of manuals prior to acceptance.
• Assists in the operation of the regional computerized equipment management system.
• Assists with the installation and repair of medical electronic systems in the facility.
• Consults with supervisor or manager for direction in dealing with complex repairs and problems.
• Provides in-service training on the use of equipment to other health care providers.
• Decides on routine repairs and maintenance.
• Diploma from a Biomedical Engineering Technology program or equivalent education (Electronic
Engineering Technology) and experience.
• Prolonged sitting, standing, bending and walking.
• Lifts heavy medical equipment.
• Works in general office and facility environment.
• Travel in all weather/road conditions.
Work is subject to danger of radiation exposure, biohazarous materials and electrical hazards.
From http://www.hsaa.ca/members_services/classification_updates .
Unions work towards the betterment of their members by ensuring the work environment is safe and by
fighting for fair wages and benefits. HSAA is no exception, they represent a majority of medical related
fields in Alberta including biomedical. They currently represent over 21 thousand medical staff and
technologists and are still growing. Becoming a member of HSAA gives an individual a sense of security
and relief if the need arises during your career.