Cleaning standards from ‘moderate dinginess’ to ‘casual inattention’

Working conditions at some offices on the University of Alberta campus are being called 'moderately dingy' or ‘casual inattention.’ What does that mean, and what's behind the ranking?

Can you imagine working in a place described as ‘moderate dinginess’ or the slightly better ‘casual inattention’? That’s what’s happening in some offices at the U of A.

“We’ve been dealing with moderate dinginess, which is level 4 — and that means garbage wasn’t removed on time, dust and dirt collected in areas that are not public-facing,” explained Quinn Benders, the president of a non-academic staff association.

The president of the non-academic staff union at Alberta’s top university says staffing levels for maintenance and cleaning haven’t been the same since the pandemic, but they’re still trying.

It comes as some U of A staff share on social media emails they’ve received informing them that cleaning standards have been upgraded from ‘moderate dinginess’ which means the floors may be swept, but almost everything else is dirty to ‘casual inattention’ — which is cleaner, but still not amazing.

Benders agrees the terms for cleanliness are a little ridiculous. They come from an international body that governs post-secondary facility standards.

“What’s even worse than the terms is the reality that we have to live through when dealing with these terms, because what they mean is that we’re living in unclean and dingy environments that we wouldn’t expect from a flagship institution,” said Benders.

Benders lays the blame on provincial post-secondary cuts in Alberta, saying the U of A isn’t the only institution in the province facing these issues. Saying funding cuts have led to more cleaning work being contracted out to save costs.

“If you have people who have dedicated careers and you pay them adequately and give them modest benefits, they’re going to be more committed to their positions than people who are paid minimum wage or just above.”

CityNews reached out to the University of Alberta administration and the students’ union, neither have responded at this time.

In response, Alberta’s Ministry of Advanced Education said in a statement: “Through budget 2024, Alberta’s government invested $1.8 billion in base grants to post-secondary institutions. Post-secondary institutions have the responsibility and autonomy to make independent decisions about allocating operating dollars from government.”

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