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

Reality show filming in South Okanagan is looking for participants

A real estate reality show is looking for homeowners and realtors to participate

Slackcountry Cup competitors shred the unshredded on Okanagan ski hill

The fifth year of the competition on the slopes of Baldy Mountain is this weekend.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sunny days ahead

It’s beginning to feel like spring in Kelowna

Okanagan Cat Coalition asks for help from community

The coalition has lost over half its inventory of traps

Temperatures on the rise for the Okanagan Valley

Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather update

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Kelowna DJs organize own shows to fill gap in music scene

The DJs wanted to create somewhere people could enjoy their music safely

In Photos: Classic snowmobiles pushed to their limits in fun races

The Burner in Malakwa served as the venue for races show cases older sleds

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Most Read