Enhanced training for the nursing team, more long-term care — throne speech

But Campbell Liberals also signal cuts to public services

The Campbell Liberals say they’ll improve training programs for care aides and LPNs, build 5,000 new long-term care beds and pressure the federal government to live up to its responsibility to fund medicare.

Those announcements are contained in Tuesday’s throne speech which outlined the new government’s ambitious agenda for what’s expected to be a long session of the B.C. legislature that could extend into the fall.

And while action on the nursing team, long-term care and federal funding are positive moves by the new goverrment, HEU is concerned that the Liberals are setting the stage for cuts to public services and the implementation of user fees in health care.

That’s because an overly pessimistic outlook of the province’s fiscal situation provided by a handpicked fiscal review panel combined with revenue shortfalls from high income tax cuts has provided the new government with the “crisis” it requires to implement a restraint program.

“The provincial government has put a lot of stock in increasing the take home pay of British Columbians,” says HEU assistant secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “But it remains to be seen if tax savings are erased by higher user fees and lack of public services.”

Tuesday’s throne speech also repeated the government’s plans to restrict the ability of unions to organize workers and restrict the collective bargaining rights of teachers and school support staff by bringing in essential services legislation.

Bosancic said the HEU will work with the Liberals to implement their plans for enhanced LPN and Care Aide training.

“There’s no question that better use of the entire nursing team is one of a range of broad-based solutions to solving the nursing crisis that includes an appropriate compensation package for RNs,” says Bosancic.

And Bosancic says HEU will remind the Liberals of their commitment to preserve the current public-non-profit to private ratio in the provision of new long-term care beds.

“We need to do more to encourage partnerships with community groups and non-profits to build care facilities,” says Bosancic.