On September 1, the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) reached a tentative agreement covering more than 60,000 health care workers across the province.
On October 12, members of the nine-union Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) ratified the new three-year collective agreement with B.C.’s health employers by a vote of 64 per cent.
HEU’s secretary business manager Meena Brisard says that seven months of negotiations took place against the backdrop of serious staff shortages and COVID-related burnout, along with rising costs not seen in decades.
“Our bargaining committee has negotiated an unprecedented agreement for the unprecedented times we are facing in health care and in the economy.”
A closer look at key issues
These fact sheets focus and expand on specific topics covered in the tentative agreement. Topics include wages, recruitment and retention, safety at work, vacations and leaves, and building equity in the workplace.
- Wages, premiums and allowances
The tentative agreement includes substantial general wage increases, improved premium pay in a number of areas, and several other compensation-related gains that will benefit workers directly.
The agreement provides General Wage Increases (GWIs) in 2022, 2023 and 2024 with a potential cost of living adjustments (COLA) to the GWI in the last two years linked to increases in the annualized BC Consumer Price Index over a 12-month period.
If the maximum possible COLA is triggered in both the second and third year, the total wage increase over the three-year agreement will exceed 14% for all classifications by April 2024.
For Grid 22 and below, total wage increases in this scenario would exceed 14.6% by April 2024.
Try our wage calculator to see how your hourly wage would be impacted by changing the value of the COLA.
- Retroactive payments
General wage increases, increases to weekend, evening, and night premiums and a number of new and improved allowances, will be paid retroactively to April 1, 2022.
- Vacation and leaves
The bargaining committee has secured agreement to review the application of special leave language in the collective agreement which continues to be a concern for many members trying to access their special leave entitlements.
In addition, the tentative agreement brings leave provisions up-to-date and compliant with changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), and makes other improvements to leave provisions. And the collective agreement now includes a new statutory holiday on September 30 – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Safety at work
With health injury rates higher than any other labour sector, safer working conditions and safe workloads were key priorities in this round of bargaining.
The 2022-2025 tentative agreement contains a number of new provisions that deal directly with occupational health and safety, injuries, workload, and provide more Enhanced Disability Management Program (EDMP) stewards.
- Recruitment and retention
Effective measures to attract and retain skilled workers will reduce workload and burnout, and ensure the sustainability of our health care system going forward. Staffing levels are a key contributor to safer working environments.
Health employers have committed to an additional 9.25 million bargaining unit hours by December 31, 2024 (as compared to 2021) and have agreed that 78% of those new additional hours will result in regular part-time or full-time positions.
Thousands of new regular positions will be created in addition to previously announced repatriation of contracted housekeeping and dietary staff.
- Building equity in our workplace
Public health care must provide equitable access to all who seek care, and that means we must identify and act to remove barriers to access by both patients and workers.
The parties to the agreement, in consultation with Indigenous health care workers and experts, have secured a number of provisions that advance our efforts to decolonize our health care system, and to foster greater inclusion and diversity within the workforce.
- Union rights and contract enforcement
Shop stewards help enforce the collective agreement and members’ rights but can struggle to find the time to advocate for members and enforce the contract.
Under Article 5, the parties have agreed to establish 21.2 permanent dedicated shop steward positions at some of the largest worksites. The positions take direction from the union but are paid by the employer at the steward’s current rate of pay. Existing arrangements already in place at some sites are protected under this agreement.
- Supporting casual workers
Upon ratification, casual “in lieu” pay will increase to 13% of their straight-time pay in lieu of scheduled vacations and statutory holidays as a result of adding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to Article 27.
Casuals are now entitled to five (5) paid sick days per year, as per new regulations in the Employment Standards Act.