Hospital Employees Union members rally to save jobs in Coquitlam Sunday. (HEU/Facebook)

Hospital employees’ union calls on B.C. to stop care home staff layoffs

Union calling on health ministry and Fraser Health to save jobs

A union held a rally on Sunday to call on British Columbia’s health minister and the Fraser Health Authority to stop staff layoffs at two long-term care homes in Coquitlam.

The Hospital Employees’ Union said about 150 staff were told they would lose their jobs at the Lakeshore and Madison care centres, which have both publicly funded and private beds and house nearly 200 seniors in total.

The union said the owner is switching contractors, resulting in the layoffs of care aides, licensed practical nurses, activity workers, housekeepers and food service workers.

But owner The Care Group said the contractor has decided to retire from her business, and her employees at the two centres were given layoff notices as a result.

The Care Group said it’s in the process of a selecting a new contractor, and existing staff have been encouraged to apply for jobs with the new company.

It expects most of the employees will accept employment with the new contractor and therefore the suggestion that 150 employees will lose their jobs is misleading, it said.

“We are committed to continuity in care, and expect to achieve it through this transition,” said Gavin McIntosh, the company’s director of administration and development.

McIntosh said changes in contractors do occur in the industry and the health authority itself changed contractors within its hospitals on several occasions. In those situations, the new contractor hired most of the staff who were previously in place, he said.

READ MORE: Union pleas for province to act on nursing home takeover by Chinese government

The Hospital Employees’ Union also alleges that in early May, more 100 staff at Madison and Lakeshore care homes voted to join the union, and three weeks later they received layoff notices.

Fifty housekeeping and dietary workers who were in the middle of an organizing drive at the facilities were also laid off, the union said.

“The reality is, workers at these two facilities exercised their right to join a union — and now they are without jobs,” the union’s secretary-business manager, Jennifer Whiteside, said in a statement.

“This is union-busting at the most basic level, and it’s hurting vulnerable seniors who depend on their familiar care staff.”

But McIntosh said layoff notices were provided to all the retiring contractor’s employees at those sites — those covered by the union certifications, and those not covered.

He added that if employees hired by the new contractor wish to apply for union representation under the Labour Code, that will be their right.

Whiteside said the province has a recruitment and retention problem in seniors’ care due to rampant contracting out and contract flipping. These practices destabilize care, keep wages low and create precarious work, she said.

“Retaining an experienced, well-trained workforce is critical to resident health and safety,” she said.

“We are asking the minister of health and the Fraser Health Authority, who fund contracts with these facilities, to ensure staff retain their employment without loss of compensation, hours of work or their union.”

The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Fraser Health said in a statement that the contractor gave notice in May that she was retiring and closing her companies later this year.

“We are committed to ensuring seniors receive the best care possible and we value the work of all health-care employees in caring for seniors in our communities,” it said.

“This is an unfortunate situation and we are taking it seriously. We are continuing our discussions with the contracted provider and we are trying to come to a solution.”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Shuswap SPCA seeking property for new facility

Organization would like location closer to town centre

Salmon Arm Silverbacks take it to overtime against Wenatchee Wild

Silverbacks earn a point, even the gap in 4-3 OT loss

Yellow Vest movement rallied in Vernon Saturday

Protesters took to the steps of the Vernon courthouse Saturday.

Agreement to purchase property for Salmon Arm Landfill extended

CSRD has six months to get Ministry of Environment approval and city rezoning

City administrator honoured for 20 years of service

Carl Bannister’s career with Salmon Arm begins with evacuation

Yellow Vest movement rallied in Vernon Saturday

Protesters took to the steps of the Vernon courthouse Saturday.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

Vegan chocolatiers set up shop in Penticton

Celine Nativel and David Mullner, of Maison Mulnati French Vegan Chocolates, discuss their craft

Christmas wish for Mirielle: love and carpets

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Risk of catching the flu increasing in B.C. this holiday season: BCCDC

Dr. Danuta Skowronski with the BC Centre for Disease Control says influenza will pick up during the holidays

Most Read