The process of returning housekeeping and food-service worker roles to the Hospital Employees’ Union continues in B.C., with a handful of care homes in Fraser Health.
The repatriation from private contract work to public system jobs will affect nearly 200 employees across Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Coquitlam and Hope who had been employed by Compass but will now be employees of Fraser Health.
A recent government press release stated that it means “people accessing health care in the Lower Mainland will benefit from more stable, consistent and supportive patient care.”
The change comes after almost 20 years of these workers having their services contracted out to private companies. When that took place, many of the workers lost their pensions and took deep pay cuts.
“Housekeeping and food-service workers make vital contributions to our health-care system on a daily basis, and the decision to contract these workers out has had devastating impacts,” said Adrian Dix, minister of health. “Today, we are celebrating the fact that 194 more workers are being welcomed back as members of our health-care team and the government’s commitment to bettering the retention and recruitment of our valuable health-service workers in B.C.”
The affected workers include 42 housekeeping workers, one retail worker and 52 food-service workers at Mission Memorial Hospital and The Residence in Mission; 16 housekeeping workers and 11 food-service workers at Heritage Village in Chilliwack; 14 housekeeping workers and 22 food-service workers at Cottage Worthington Pavilion in Abbotsford; one housekeeping worker and four food-service workers at Holmberg House Hospice in Abbotsford; 11 housekeeping workers and 12 food-service workers at Fraser Canyon Hospital and Fraser Hope Lodge in Hope; and eight housekeeping workers at Cypress, Cottonwood and Connolly Lodges in Coquitlam.
The change is part of the Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act (Bill 47), and includes bringing an estimated 4,000 workers back into the public system. The news release stated the change will “address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in health-care facilities” and ensure workers have better benefits, wages and working conditions.
In turn, it stated, patients are likely to receive better care and employers can better retain staff.
The change was first announced last August and began with Island Health. There will eventually be 21 commercial service contracts phased out.
“Both workers and patients deserve the best treatment possible,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack.” This is why Bill 47 is so important. By improving the working conditions, compensation and job security for our health-care workers, we are improving the resiliency of our health-care workforce, which, in turn, betters patient care for our communities.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO of Fraser Health, said they are “delighted to welcome these back to the family this fall.”
The union agrees.
“Housekeepers and food-service workers are critical to patient safety and care in our health-care system,” said Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager of the HEU. “By bringing these jobs back into the public service, the government is reversing the failed privatization policies of the past that fragmented our health-care system. Reuniting these workers with the health-care team means a stronger health-care system and better working conditions for these frontline workers, most of whom are women or racialized workers.”
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