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A Burnaby long-term care facility is the first to contract out seniors’ personal care in a move the Hospital Employees’ Union says is “provocative and unnecessary” and contradicts government claims that legislation breaking health contracts won’t lead to privatization of direct patient care.

And the union says it has additional evidence that B.C.’s health employers are actively planning to use the provisions of last year’s Bill 29 to expand the practice of contracting out members of the nursing team such as care aides, LPNs and RNs.

On Monday, Willingdon Park Hospital - a privately operated but publicly funded care home – issued pink slips to 35 care aides who bathe, groom, dress and feed the 95 seniors who reside there. Late last year, the facility contracted out the work of 18 laundry, housekeeping and dietary staff.

The care aides work their last shifts June 27. Most have worked there for more than 15 years.

“The relationship between these caregivers and the residents is like family,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Throwing these workers out on the street may fatten this employers’ bottom line, but it will also disrupt the lives of these seniors - and quite unnecessarily.”

Allnutt says a tentative deal the union has signed with health employers and government would result in considerable cost savings for long-term care facilities like this one.

The HEU has also learned that the B.C. Care Providers Association, which represents many publicly subsidized long-term care facilities, will hold a workshop to explore issues around the contracting out of care staff at its annual meeting in Whistler next month.

A senior staff member of the Health Employers Association of B.C will participate in the session entitled “Contracting Out - Pit Falls, Profits and Perception.”

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that no part of the health care system is safe from this government’s privatization plans - including direct patient care,” says Allnutt.


Mike Old, communications officer,