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

Bernie Brown campaigning to be Nelson’s mayor

Brown says affordable housing, mental health and food security are her priorities

COLUMN: A selection of local election reflections

Observations on West Kootenay/Boundary election races following Friday’s close of nominations

Cougar sightings increase in Nelson area

WildSafe BC’s Dave White offers advice on avoiding confrontations

UPDATED: Trafalgar student hit by car while walking to school

Nelson Police say charges are being considered

Expedia: Nelson is historic and hoppin’

The travel website put Nelson on two best-of lists for its history and beer

VIDEO: Lydia Kania is here to skunk you

The Vallican track athlete has turned to cribbage in her senior years

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read