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A private contractor in BC is having a hard time recruiting and retaining people to do the most dangerous, and dirty health care jobs for $12.59 an hour. Imagine that.

To HEU, the solution is simple.

The provincial government should require health care contractors to provide living wages to their workers,” says HEU Secretary-Business Manager Judy Darcy.

But Compass, a British multinational that posted $1 billion in profits last year, apparently really likes the low wage. So they’re proposing hiring temporary foreign workers to clean operating rooms and feed patients in Vancouver Island hospitals.

Health authorities who directly employ cleaning and dietary support workers – and provide better wages, benefits and working conditions – do not have these recruitment and retention problems.

Most Compass Group employees earn $12.59 an hour, compared to $16 to $17 an hour plus benefits for those employed by the health authority directly in places like Campbell River, Kelowna and Prince George.

Unionized hotel housekeeping staff in Victoria earn between $14.65 and $17.56 an hour.

Government has a choice – they can support a sustainable solution that includes living wages for workers or they can continue to prop up a failed privatization experiment and protect Compass’ profits, at the expense of vulnerable foreign workers and patient care,” Darcy said.

Under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, companies can apply to bring workers into Canada for up to two years.

Critics say workers recruited under the program are subject to exploitation and abuse and that governments do little to enforce or monitor basic labour standards.