HSABC reports some progress in contract talks

Union launches public awareness campaign to put spotlight on long waiting lists.

Reid Johnson, president of the Health sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC/NUPGE)Vancouver (21 May 2010) - The Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC/NUPGE) says two days of contract talks produced some progress this week on behalf of health science professionals across the province.HSABC says the progress came on non-monetary issues related to protecting quality health care. The union tabled proposed new contract language on whistle-blower protection for health care professionals.If agreed to, the new language would protect professionals who speak up about illegal practices on the job that put the care of patients or the safety of employees at risk. Meanwhile, HSABC has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the continued growth of waiting lists for diagnostic tests. Last month, health authorities in the Lower Mainland served lay-off notices to HSABC as a result of plans to consolidate diagnostic imaging services. As a result, the union has held several meetings with diagnostic imaging staff, including x-ray and ultrasound technologists.All are concerned that decreased staffing will worse already long waiting lists.“It is unconscionable that this government would allow diagnostic wait lists to grow and grow, even as they tell British Columbians that their number one priority is patient care," says HSABC president Reid Johnson."How can you translate the elimination of thousands of diagnostic tests and wait lists of up to 18 months into improved patient care? You can’t. It’s impossible."HSABC represents the majority of health science professionals working in hospitals and communities across the province.“Without a diagnosis, patients’ illnesses and injuries will get more acute. That translates into more complicated treatments, longer hospital stays, and longer recovery,” Johnson says.The union has launched a multi-media advertising and social media campaign to raise public awareness about the growing problems associated with waiting lists.The campaign consists of a series of radio spots, online video, flash web banners and social media tools urging the public to seek further information at this website: www.stopthewait.ca.“The campaign highlights the importance of the work our members do, and the impact that the government’s choices on health care spending are having on patients,” Johnson says.Bargaining for a new contract for health science professionals began in April. Their last contract expired on March 31.NUPGEThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE