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Portland Hotel Society staffers are committed to continuing the vital work of the society’s many projects, facilities and services in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside despite the recent changes to the PHS’s board of directors and senior management.

That was the clear message delivered to CUPE BC president Mark Hancock and secretary-treasurer Paul Faoro as they toured a number of PHS facilities yesterday. Members of CUPE 1004, PHS staff work at wide range of sites and facilities throughout the DTES.

“Regardless of where they work, CUPE members are dedicated to the work they do, but I was truly impressed by the passion and empathy of every staff member we met,” said Hancock. “CUPE BC will stand with these workers to ensure that the services they provide to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our community will continue.

“It’s clear that these services—and these workers—are making peoples’ lives better every day, and it’s equally clear that cutting or eliminating these services would have a devastating impact on this community.”

PHS shop stewards Andrew Ledger and Andy Healey showed Hancock and Faoro through a number of PHS-run facilities, including Insite, North America’s first and only supervised injection site.

“I’ve lived in Vancouver most of my life, and even I wasn’t aware of some of the incredible work the PHS has been doing in our city,” said Faoro. “Insite alone has saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, yet it’s still under threat. It’s just unimaginable to me that health care services that demonstrably save lives would be under threat of reduction or elimination. I would urge any politician or bureaucrat that wants to eliminate these kinds of services to do what Mark and I did yesterday—see for yourself how valuable and essential they are firsthand.”

More information on the PHS’s services and facilities can be found here.

A gallery of photos from yesterday’s tour can be found here