Repeal of legislation will end 16-year attack on delivery of health care and community services in B.C. | National Union of Public and General Employees

Repeal of legislation will end 16-year attack on delivery of health care and community services in B.C.

The B.C. government has committed to work collaboratively with stakeholders to implement the repeal of these bills. The BCGEU/NUPGE and HSABC/NUPGE look forward to engaging in this process to support, and significantly improve conditions for workers affected by these changes. 

Vancouver (13 Nov. 2018) — Unions across British Columbia are welcoming the news that Adrian Dix, B.C. Minister of Health, has introduced legislation repealing 16-year-old legislation that targeted health care and community social services workers British Columbians count on to care for them during their most vulnerable times.

“This legislation introduced brings an end to almost 2 decades of attacks on health care and community social service workers,” said Val Avery, HSABC President.

Bills trampled the labour rights of thousands of workers 

Bills 29 and 94, introduced by the B.C. Liberal government in 2002 and 2003 respectively, resulted in reduction in wages, job security and a deterioration of working conditions for workers in the health and community social service sectors. The bills also enabled contract-flipping in the sector. The effect of the legislation was to erode the conditions of care for vulnerable patients and clients and to create industrial instability.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada threw out many elements of the legislation that eliminated collective agreement protections against contracting out, cancelled layoff notice provisions, took away bumping rights, and gave employers the unilateral right to transfer employees from one workplace to another without their consent.

Legislation allowed the erosion of public services

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the then-B.C. Liberal government continued to pursue its agenda of contracting out, contract flipping and privatizing critical services.

"The BCGEU/NUPGE has long pushed for change in the health services and community social services sectors, and to end the practice of contract-flipping in particular. This announcement demonstrates a concrete effort on the part of government to address these issues," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President.

The practice of contract-flipping typically involves mass layoffs and forces workers to re-apply for jobs that they have, in many cases, already been performing for years. When this occurs, existing collective agreements and union representation are not carried over, and contracts offered by the new service provider typically offer lower wages, reduced benefits and weakened rights for employees. In short, contract flipping is a strategy for suppressing wages and weakening employee rights in the workplace.

Privatization of seniors care

Seniors care was widely contracted out to private providers, and the effect of short-term contracts resulted in a loss of continuity of care and over-worked staff, for which patients and their families suffered the consequences. B.C.’s seniors’ advocate, Isobel MacKenzie, released a report earlier this year that found, compared to public care homes, seniors living in private facilities are

  • 32 per cent more likely to be sent to the emergency department
  • 34 per cent more likely to be hospitalized
  • 32 per cent more likely to stay in hospital longer
  • 54 per cent more likely to die in hospital.

The B.C. government has committed to work collaboratively with stakeholders to implement the repeal of these bills. The BCGEU/NUPGE and HSABC/NUPGE look forward to engaging in this process to support, and significantly improve conditions for workers affected by these changes. 


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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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