The provincial government is preparing to let publicly
funded, but independently operated, care homes opt out of a provincially
negotiated collective agreement that sets out a common standard for wages and
working conditions for nearly 40,000 health care workers.
The Hospital Employees’ Union
says the private nursing home operators who’ve been pushing for the change are
looking to increase profits by squeezing wages and benefits and undermining
The resulting increase in staff turnover, says the union,
would seriously disrupt continuity of care for seniors in a sector that’s
already been rocked by under-funding and privatization.
“Seniors who need residential care, and their families, have
every right to expect that if a facility receives public dollars that they will
provide a similar standard of care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy
“If government gives in to private operators, one set of
negotiations in the sector would be replaced by two dozen or more - a
tremendous waste of resources that will contribute to further instability in
the sector and to a patchwork of collective bargaining arrangements.
“It would also weaken government’s ability to work with
unions on implementing progressive health care policies through the collective
The Health Employers Association of B.C. – the legislated
bargaining agent for funded health care facilities – informed health unions last
week that the province intends to make regulatory changes that would allow
contracted care facilities to eventually opt out of HEABC membership and
If the plan proceeds and some independent operators are
successful in withdrawing from HEABC, union members employed at these sites
would continue to be covered by the terms of the current collective agreement
until it expires and new terms and conditions are negotiated.
The plan would not affect the vast majority of HEU
members in the Facilities Subsector because they are employed directly by