1,000 front-line health care workers to be sacked from Whistler to Vancouver

News release

Move will tarnish region’s Olympic image — HEU

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has taken the first step towards total privatization of housekeeping and operating room cleaning in hospitals and long-term care facilities from Whistler to Richmond.

It’s a move that the Hospital Employees’ Union says will result in the layoff of more than 1000 women and men and will put patient health and safety at risk. Tomorrow, the health authority is expected to issue a “request for proposals” inviting private corporations to bid on the work. The RFP closes in January at which time pink slips will be issued.

HEU's secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says Gordon Campbell's health care privatization campaign puts Vancouver’s world-class image at risk.

“The premier may have Olympic dreams for the region, but his policies mean that workers from Whistler to Sechelt to Vancouver will lose decent family and community supporting jobs,” adds Allnutt. “It’s an absolutely appalling way to treat these skilled and experienced front-line health care workers and it represents another attack by the Campbell Liberals on the economic base of communities large and small.”

Allnutt says private contractors will pay wages in the eight to 10 dollar an hour range — a situation that will lead to high turnover and less experienced workers cleaning sensitive patient care areas including hospital operating rooms.

Evidence from around the globe points to rising infection rates in health care facilities where cleaning has been privatized. A recent U.S. study says lower cleaning standards contributed to the deaths of more than 103,000 Americans in 2001. The National Health Service in the U.K recently had to invest more than CDN$77 million in a crash program to upgrade cleaning standards in selected hospitals — most of which had retained private cleaning contractors.

B.C.’s health authorities were given a free hand to contract out the work of thousands of front-line health care workers when the Campbell Liberals passed legislation that shredded health care collective agreements last January.

For more info contact Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)