Campbell Liberals in denial over health care wage cuts

News release

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A B.C. cabinet minister is denying that her government imposed 15 per cent wage cuts on health care workers a year ago.

Last night in Vancouver, Minister of State for Early Childhood Development Linda Reid told an all-candidates’ meeting on women’s issues that “the notion, somehow, that the rollback of 15 per cent was a government prerogative frankly is wrong.”

Bill 37 — passed by the Campbell government on April 28, 2004, after an all-night debate in the B.C. legislature — cut health care workers’ wages by 15 per cent.

Reid went on to say: “the reality is, the decision of the 15 per cent was not taken by government, it was taken by the union leadership. And that’s a reported fact. All you need to do is look it up.”

Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Judy Darcy says Reid’s attempt to rewrite her government’s legislative record in the middle of an election campaign is standard fare for a government that has trouble telling the truth.

“Premier Campbell promised health care workers before the last election that he would respect their contracts and value their work,” says Darcy.

“Instead, he ripped up their contracts, fired more than 8,000 workers — most of them women — and then imposed 15 per cent wage cuts on tens of thousands more.

“And there’s no denying the impact of Bill 37 on health care workers ranging from licensed practical nurses to ECG techs to medical records clerks,” says Darcy.

“Their take home pay dropped by several hundred dollars a month because of this government’s mean-spirited and arbitrary actions,” says Darcy.

Bill 37 contained provisions that reduced the hourly wage by four per cent by extending the work week and retroactively cut compensation by a further 11 per cent for a total cut of 15 per cent.

The wage cuts were implemented without retroactivity as a result of the public outcry and a subsequent agreement by government.