People accessing health care in the Lower Mainland will benefit from more stable, consistent and supportive patient care as 133 housekeeping and food-service workers return to the public system as Fraser Health employees.
The change comes after almost 20 years of these workers having their services contracted out to private companies.
“Retention is one of the key pillars of our health human resource strategy, and to retain workers, we need to ensure that they have well-paying, stable jobs,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “By bringing these workers back to the public health system with better wages, benefits and working conditions, we will build a stronger health-care workforce for British Columbia.”
Health authorities and Providence Health Care continue to repatriate workers under Bill 47, bringing an estimated 4,000 workers back into the public system.
On Oct. 1, 2022, a further 90 housekeeping workers and 43 food-service workers were repatriated to Fraser Health at Chilliwack General Hospital and Bradley Centre.
“Housekeeping and food-service workers play a vital role in our health-care system, and, therefore, we must recognize and respect the essential services they provide to people in B.C. every day,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care. “Thank you, Fraser Health, for your commitment and hard work to repatriate these workers under Bill 47, so that they can be a part of the health team and provide better care for all of us.”
To address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in health-care facilities, government is ensuring that workers have the benefits, pension and wages that they deserve to be able to help patients. Evidence has shown that employees who feel secure and safe in their jobs provide higher-quality care for people, and in turn, employers can attract and retain staff at a higher and more consistent level.
Following the initial announcement on Aug. 30, 2021, health authorities and Providence Health Care served notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts and began a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food-service contracts, beginning with Island Health.
Work to bring health-care service workers back into the public system began in 2019 when the Province brought Bill 47 (Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act) into force. Bill 47 repealed the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill 94), which had facilitated contracting out in the health sector and caused significant labour impacts.
In 2020, the process was started with the North Island Hospitals, which spearheaded the move independently of Bill 47 to bring 150 contracted-out workers in house at the Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals.
Harry Bains, Minister of Labour –
“Years ago, dedicated people who worked hard to provide quality services to support their families unfairly lost their jobs. They had to reapply for their own positions at lower wages and without other hard-won collective agreement entitlements and protections. I am so gratified to see that terrible injustice now be corrected. These health-care workers, and all workers, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack –
“Housekeeping and food-service workers see and interact with patients on a regular basis at the Chilliwack General Hospital and Bradley Centre. By bringing these workers back as part of Fraser Health, they will be treated with respect and patient care for our communities will surely improve. I am so proud of our government for bringing in Bill 47.”
Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent –
“Communities rely on health-care service workers to take good care of patients. By ensuring that they have stable jobs with equitable pay and benefits, we are taking care of them, too. I am very happy to be welcoming them back as Fraser Health employees – it’s the right thing to do.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO, Fraser Health –
“Every day, across our region, our caring and dedicated housekeeping and food-service workers help our patients, clients and residents feel at home at our sites. We are so grateful that these workers will continue to be important members of our care teams as Fraser Health employees and look forward to how this change will benefit them, their families and the Chilliwack community.”
Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) –
“Housekeepers and food-service workers are critical to patient safety and care in our health-care system. By bringing these jobs back into the public service, the government is reversing the failed privatization policies of the past that fragmented our health-care system. Reuniting these workers with the health-care team means a stronger health-care system and better working conditions for these frontline workers, most of whom are women or racialized workers.”
Learn more about Bill 47: https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2018HLTH0102-002147.htm
For the Sept. 1, 2022, announcement on Bill 47: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0174-001313
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