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Caregivers have occupied a mental health group home in the Fraser Valley community of Yarrow in a last ditch effort to recover back wages and benefits owed by the facility’s private, for-profit operator.

Seven members of the Hosiptal Employees’ Union (which is a service division of CUPE) occupied the residence October 26 and say they’ll stay put until they see their back wages.

Yarrow Lodge was closed by the Fraser Valley Regional Health Board because the operator of the facility failed to comply with operating standards set out in his contract.

A community rally was held Thursday, October 29, to show support for the workers who are owed at least $29,000 in back wages and benefits - money that’s already been paid to the owner by the regional health board.

“The lives of residents and their families have been totally disrupted and this community deprived of scarce mental health beds,” said Wendy Taylor, spokesperson for the caregivers at the facility.

HEU is calling for a government review of the role of the private sector in health care, citing the problems at the Lodge, the lack of accountability of the health board and the failure of the owner to meet his obligation to the workers.

Is this any way to provide care to the most vulnerable members of society?