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Municipalities will foot the bill while patients and health care workers put at risk - HEU

The Fraser Health Authority has taken the first step towards contracting out its protection services in a move that the Hospital Employees’ Union says will offload costs onto municipalities and put patients and health care workers at risk.

The work of nearly 100 security officers employed by hospitals will be contracted out to private firms using low-paid security guards. It’s a situation that will put more stress on municipal coffers, says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“Hospitals have unique security requirements that are not the same as shopping malls and construction sites,” says Allnutt.

“Our security officers have the skills and experience to deal with complex situations that arise in emergency rooms and psychiatric units. They work as part of a team with other health care workers.

“But it’s almost certain private security won’t be empowered - nor will they have the skills and experience - to deal with these situations,” adds Allnutt. “As a result, local police will be called on more and more often to pick up the pieces.”

And unfortunately, says Allnutt, the added delays will put patients, their families and health care workers at risk from incidents that can develop into dangerous situations in minutes.

“Privatization is the wrong answer for patients,” says Allnutt. “And this government has yet to deliver a shred of evidence that it will make sense for taxpayers.”

Today’s request for qualifications to security firms will establish a short list from which the FHA will select a firm or firms to carry out the privatized work.