British Columbians say cutting health care wage rates through privatization will have negative impact on patient care—poll

News release

Cutting pay rates for hospital support workers to as low as minimum wage by privatizing services is a key element of the Campbell government’s health care agenda. But the vast majority of British Columbians are concerned the move would have a negative impact on patient care, according to polling results released today by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

Some 68 per cent of the public say that paying support workers as little as the minimum wage—which is a practice of corporations bidding on privatization tenders put out by Premier Campbell’s health authorities—will be bad for patient care in B.C. hospitals. Only six per cent of respondents in the survey, which was conducted for HEU by the Vancouver polling firm McIntyre and Mustel, thought that the consequences will be positive, while 18 per cent said it will have no real impact.

HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic says the results show that British Columbians are concerned about the impacts of the government’s privatization agenda at the bedside. “There appears to be a sense that replacing skilled and experienced support workers with low or minimum wage jobs through privatization is not the answer to improve patient care,” she says.

Levels of concern are highest among women (72 per cent), 18 to 34 year olds (76 per cent) and union households (77 per cent). And 52 per cent of Liberal supporters also feel the move will have negative consequences.

Meanwhile, other survey questions show continued public opposition to other key elements of the Liberal’s plans to restructure health care. Of those with an opinion:

  • 72 per cent feel that the Campbell government does not have a workable plan to provide better care services for B.C. seniors;
  • 69 per cent feel the Campbell government is moving too far too fast with its health care changes;
  • 65 per cent of British Columbians don’t trust Premier Campbell to protect public health care.
The telephone survey of 509 British Columbians was in the field until July 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The Questions

If hospital support services are privatized, pay rates for hospital support workers will be as low as minimum wage. Do you think this will have a positive impact, a negative impact, or no real impact on patient care? Positive impact 6.3 per cent Negative impact 68.3 per cent No real impact 18.4 per cent Don’t know 6.9 per cent Thinking about health care services for seniors, do you agree or disagree that the B.C. Liberal government has a workable plan to provide better health care services for B.C. seniors? DecidedPer cent Overall Per cent Disagree 72.4 55.9 Agree 27.6 21.3 Don’t know —— 22.8 Some people say the provincial government is moving too far, too fast with its health care changes. Others say the government is doing what is necessary to fix health care. Which is closest to your view? Decided Per cent Overall Per cent Too far, too fast 69.4 64.7 Doing what’s necessary 30.6 28.5 Don’t know —— 6.8 Do you trust Premier Campbell to protect public health care? DecidedPer cent OverallPer cent Yes 35.5 32.3 No 64.5 58.6 Don’t know —— 9.1 -30- Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director 604-456-7037