#15Staffing levels: We're run off our feet!

Bargaining bulletin

Feb. 21 to focus on workload pressures, solutions

HEU members will be wearing colourful stickers on the job Feb. 21 to drive home the impact that low staffing levels have on their ability to provide quality care for British Columbians. Across the province, they’ll also be highlighting progressive solutions that HEU is pressing for at the bargaining table to deal with the workload pressures faced by health care workers and to improve care standards for people right across the province.

The event is the first province-wide action in the union’s plan to mobilize members at the local level and advance the important process of supporting our contract demands by pressuring employers in the workplace. Our goal is to negotiate two key measures at the bargaining table to alleviate the serious problem, namely:

  • clearly defined staffing ratios—particularly in long-term care—to keep health care safe for health care workers and our patients, residents and clients;
  • strong language on replacing staff during absences and limits on workload that results from those absences.
Meanwhile, this week HEU expects to win important backing from seniors’ groups on our demand for staffing ratios to improve the quality of care in seniors’ care facilities. And the union also released a damning research report that shows long-term care staffing levels in B.C. facilities—in terms of hours of care per resident—are so low that they fall close to or below the danger zone for resident safety set by a recent and authoritative U.S. Congressional study. Copies of the report are available on HEU’s website, .

Low staffing levels are a chronic problem at all B.C. health care facilities, and are clearly part of the cause of the skyrocketing rates of on-the-job injuries in our workplaces. According to HEU membership polling results, three out of four members say workload pressures are increasing.

Low staffing levels also impact HEU members’ lives outside of work, as two-thirds of union members say that workload pressures have an adverse effect on their personal lives.