Bill 29 used to contract out care aides

Despite government claims that Bill 29 would not result in the contracting out of direct patient care staff, a Burnaby long-term care facility could become the first health employer to use the legislation’s provisions to lay off care aides.

It’s a move that underlines the importance of a tentative deal worked out with government and health employers that limits the extent of contracting out and provides enhanced benefits for laid off workers.

On Monday, Willingdon Park Hospital told 35 care aides they were out of work effective June 27. And while they could be the first direct patient care staff to lose their jobs as a result of contracting out, there’s every indication that health employers intend to expand the practice.

The agenda for next month’s meeting of the B.C. Care Providers Association — formerly known as Pricare — includes a workshop exploring the issue of contracting out of care staff.

Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says yesterday’s news from Burnaby should send a message to every health care worker that their job is not immune to privatization and contracting out.

“Health employers can and will use Bill 29’s provisions to contract out HEU members’ work,” says Allnutt. “And they don’t particularly care what that work is.

“Yesterday, the threat has been to security, housekeeping, dietary and laundry workers. Today, care aides are targeted. In the future, every job category is at risk.”