No guarantee patients to benefit from extended work week legislation — HEU

News release

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Internal memo tells health employers they can opt for cash grab over more services for patients and seniors

B.C.’s health employers are preparing to withhold additional care to patients and seniors despite government legislation that extends hours of work in hospitals and long-term care facilities, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

Instead of providing additional service to the public, the Health Employers Association of B.C. is telling its members that they can use last month’s Bill 37 to convert full-time positions into part-time positions and pocket the savings.

“It’s nothing more than a cash grab,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “And government claims that Bill 37 would enhance patient care once again ring hollow.”

HEU is calling on the health services minister to make sure that patients and care home residents benefit from the longer work week.

The union is raising the concern after obtaining an internal HEABC memorandum advising health employers that they can “choose to keep the total number of service hours the same” by creating more part-time health care workers.

“This is an opportunity to provide seniors with more hands on care during peak bathing and meal times and to increase access to services in our hospitals,” adds Allnutt. “The alternative suggested by HEABC means more health care chaos as schedules are rearranged and jobs reposted — but with no more care for patients or seniors.”

Bill 37 — legislation imposing a contract on 43,000 health care workers last month — lengthened the work week from 36 to 37.5 hours effectively cutting the hourly wage by four per cent.

Allnutt says health unions will urge HEABC to implement the longer working week by extending the hours of work for existing full-time and part-time positions by four per cent — an approach that will result in more hours of service to the public and less disruption to the workforce.