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More than 1,000 skilled and experienced front-line health care workers stand to lose their jobs as a result of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s plans to privatize dietary and housekeeping services in south island hospitals.

“Laying off hundreds of dedicated front-line workers so a private corporation can make a profit doesn’t make sense for patients, health care workers or the Island economy,” says HEU secretary business-manager Chris Allnutt.

Calling this latest announcement “another serious blow to B.C.’s public health care system” HEU’s secretary business-manager Chris Allnutt said the cutbacks and closures that have occurred over the last 18 months are already taking a toll on the region’s ability to deliver quality health care.

“A contracted-out workforce that will be paid between $9 and $10 an hour won’t lead to better care,” he said. “But it will lead to high staff turnover. That’s because no one can support a family for very long on those kinds of wages.”

Allnutt renewed his union’s commitment to fight low-waged health care work and called upon VIHA to use the next few months to seek alternatives to privatization.

The Request for Proposal for food services in south island facilities will close August 5 and will affect about 500 health care workers. The Request for Proposal for housekeeping services has not yet been developed, but will include Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Cowichan District Hospital in addition to the south island facilities. It will affect about 550 workers.