Public concerned about impact of contracting out on B.C. seniors — poll

News release

71 per cent think contracting out care staff will have negative impact on seniors, 58 per cent oppose privatizing support services, and 65 per cent side with health workers in dispute with Victoria

More than 70 per cent of British Columbians believe that contracting out nursing and personal care in long-term care facilities will have a negative impact on seniors’ care, according to polling numbers commissioned by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

In recent weeks, at least four taxpayer funded long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland and in the Capital Region have given layoff notices to care aides and nurses in preparation for contracting out the work to private nursing agencies.

But according to the Mustel Group telephone poll — conducted earlier this month — only 11 per cent of the B.C. public think such actions will have a positive impact on seniors’ care.

And opposition to the privatization of hospital support services continues to be significant at 58 per cent, up from 56 per cent in April and 18 points higher than in June, 2002.

Support for privatization of support services like housekeeping, laundry and food services is at 34 per cent, unchanged from April and down 11 points since June, 2002.

“The public remains skeptical of government’s privatization policies in health care,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. “And it’s little wonder, given the tendency of Victoria and its health authorities to hatch their plans behind closed doors, without seeking public input.”

The poll also indicates that in the ongoing dispute between health care workers and the provincial government over health privatization, 65 per cent of the public sides with the workers (up from 64 per cent in April) including 38 per cent of B.C. Liberal supporters.

The telephone survey of 503 British Columbians was carried out June 5—12 and is considered accurate to within 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Here are the questions:

Some taxpayer funded seniors’ care facilities are laying off existing care aides and licensed practical nurses and replacing them with staff hired by outside contractors. Do you think this will have a positive or negative impact on seniors’ care?Is that very or somewhat?

Total

N: 503

%

100.0

Net Positive 57 11.3 - very positive 12 2.3 - somewhat positive 45 8.9 Neither 44 8.8 Net Negative 359 71.3 - somewhat negative 129 25.7 - very negative 229 45.6 Don’t know 43 8.6

Do you support or oppose the privatization of hospital support services like housekeeping, laundry and food services? Do you support or oppose privatization of these services strongly or somewhat?

Total

N: 503

%

100.0

Net support 171 33.9 - support strongly 90 17.8 - support somewhat 81 16.1 Neither 18 3.6 Net oppose 292 58.1 - oppose somewhat 65 12.8 - oppose strongly 228 45.3 Don’t know 22 4.3

In the dispute between the provincial government and health care workers over the privatization of health care services, which side do you tend to support — the government or the health care workers?

Total

N: 503 %

100.0 The government 110 21.8 The health care workers 325 64.7 Neither/No side 47 9.3 Don’t know 21 4.3

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771

Detailed tables are available on request.