IHA gags critics, threatens termination of employees opposed to cuts
The Interior Health Authority is disciplining employees who voice their concerns in public about the closure and privatization of seniors care facilities, and has threatened termination if there are any “further infractions.”
In Williams Lake the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) has filed grievances on behalf of three long-time health care workers who have received either written or verbal reprimands for exercising their rights as citizens by taking a public stance on the closure of two seniors care facilities in their community.
Janis Pasechuik and Sylvia Davies wrote letters to the Williams Lake Tribune expressing their concerns about the awarding of a contract to build and operate a new 65-bed private, for-profit seniors facility to replace the 58-bed Cariboo Lodge and 48-bed Deni House.
Both Pasechuik and Davies have been working at Cariboo Lodge as care aides for more than 20 years, and they are just two voices in a heated public debate about the proposed closures of the public facilities.
Another voice is that of Peggy Christianson, a cook at Cariboo Memorial Hospital, who received a verbal reprimand in advance of a public forum to be held on March 29 in Williams Lake on the fate of the two facilities.
“It’s not acceptable to stifle the voices of health care workers,” said HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt, and he called on the IHA to lift the gag on the free speech of their workers.
“These are the front-line workers who must be part of public discussions when such radical changes to health care are being contemplated or planned,” he says. “In any B.C. community, the debate about changes in the delivery of health care is a public one, and health care workers should be and are part of the debate.”
-30- Contact: Dale Fuller, communications officer at 604-456-7036 (direct) or 604-818-5105 (cell)