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August 14, 2003

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says today’s announcement by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Health Care, awarding a multi-million dollar contract to a private for-profit company, will put patients and health care workers at risk.

And the union is demanding that the health authority make public the details of the five-year deal with Paladin Security Group, including the company’s profit expectations and the wages they’ll pay their workers.

The lucrative $23 million contract will put more than 200 skilled, experienced security officers out of work at hospitals throughout the Lower Mainland. “These are hospitals, not shopping malls or parking lots,” says HEU secretary business-manager Chris Allnutt. “They have unique protection needs that require the skills and experience of an in-house hospital security force - one that is trained to operate within the hospital team.”

Allnutt says that the arms-length reporting relationship between the contracted out security guards and hospital staff will result in delayed response times to crisis situations that emerge in our large urban hospitals. And he expressed concern about the private contractor’s ability to respond to the unique situations that arise in health care settings.

As recently as a last week, a Paladin Security Group manager was receiving training in how to deal with violent and aggressive incidents involving psychiatric patients. In contrast, Allnutt noted, the decades-old security force at St. Paul’s hospital has been recognized for its excellence in dealing with patients with mental health issues.

“It’s disappointing and unacceptable that the health authority has put the government’s privatization agenda ahead of maintaining their quality, in-house security forces,” says Allnutt. “By ignoring the concerns expressed by nurses and other health care workers they are showing a callous disregard for the safety of patients, health care workers and the visiting public.”

For more information,contact Patty Gibson, communications officer, at 604-456-7007 (direct) or 604-328-7393 (cell).