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A new report details the devastation caused by the privatization of health support services in British Columbia. The report, co-authored for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives by CUPE researcher Jane Stinson and HEU researcher Marcy Cohen, follows workers as their jobs are privatized. The human face they put on the massive privatization is a grimace of pain.

It concludes, “conditions of work for these privatized workers is unacceptably harsh. In most cases, income from the job leaves families living below the poverty line. Contracting out not only endangers the health of these workers, but the well-being of their families and the patients they serve.”

In-depth interviews with 24 workers reveal that it is workers of colour who bear the brunt of privatization. Many are living in poverty, struggling to pay rent and holding down more than one job to make ends meet. The impact on B.C. communities is far-reaching.

Participants reported that rising workloads and company policy leave little time for contact with patients and residents. “Exhaustion, pain, illness and injury are commonplace,” and that pain spills over into workers’ personal lives, where participants said they felt “short-tempered or depleted.” Limited income and time means workers and their families are participating less in their communities.

The participants reinforce other research findings that show corporate corner-cutting has created “overworked, unsupported and transient cleaning staff.” It’s a situation that creates a major hygiene crisis in facilities struggling to control outbreaks of antibiotic resistant infections. Add up the cost of poor cleaning, the social services required by workers’ families, and the injuries to workers, and the cost of privatization is enormous.

Visit www.policyalternatives.ca to download “The pains of privatization: How contracting out hurts health support workers, their families, and health care.”