B.C. Seniors Advocate appointment necessary to tackle systemic challenges | National Union of Public and General Employees

B.C. Seniors Advocate appointment necessary to tackle systemic challenges

BCGEU/NUPGE calling for an end to contract flipping in seniors’ care.

Vancouver (25 Mar. 2014) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) welcomed the appointment of Isobel Mackenzie as British Columbia's first Seniors Advocate, calling it a long-overdue step in addressing the systemic challenges in seniors' care and services in the province.

B.C. Seniors Advocate to address systemic challenges in care and services

"As a provider of seniors' care and a leader in community non-profit public home support, MacKenzie is well-placed to fulfill the duties of the role of Seniors Advocate," says Darryl Walker, BCGEU President. "We are pleased to see someone who understands the business of public home support and the importance of care staff in this role.”

BCGEU/NUPGE represents thousands of workers providing home support, residential care and other services for seniors across the province.

"Our members know first-hand the challenges of providing quality care given the current fiscal and regulatory environment," says Walker.

"We have been calling for a Seniors Advocate for more than two years. We welcome this appointment, but we’re disappointed that this government didn’t see fit to make the office fully independent."

First problem to tackle: contract flipping and re-tendering

"One of the first challenges we will be raising with the Seniors Advocate is the impact of contract re-tendering and contract flipping in seniors’ care," says Walker.

"Whether in residential care or home support, seniors and their families rely on the continuity of a skilled and experienced caregiver. When health authorities and businesses change contracts with their care staff and lay off experienced workers, it hurts clients and affects the quality of care.”

“We're asking the Seniors Advocate to do better by B.C.'s seniors and put an end to contract flipping in public seniors’ care."

Walker noted that the issue of contract re-tendering is a live issue right now, with Island Health Authority delaying a decision on awarding the contract for home support services in Lower Vancouver Island.

Beacon Community Services, Isobel Mackenzie's organization, has held the contract for home support services in the lower island since 2007. Home support clients and workers in the area are still awaiting a decision on which agency will get the new contract. The decision was expected by the end of January 2014.

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The 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

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