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HEU calls the move “provocative and destabilizing,” urges province to put the brakes on contracting out, rebuild trust with front-line health workers

The B.C. Liberals are being urged to take dramatic steps to rebuild trust with front-line health care workers by putting the brakes on a major contracting out announcement expected in Vancouver later today and declaring a moratorium on all health privatization moves until the fall.

Health unions believe that the Provincial Health Services Authority will award a private contract for housekeeping and dietary services at B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital, B.C. Cancer Agency and Sunny Hill Health Centre. Up to 500 skilled, experienced workers - mostly women - will lose their jobs.

“This is a provocative and destabilizing move that undermines future efforts to minimize the impact of privatization on workers and patients,” says Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“And it reinforces the strongly held view on health care’s front lines that government can’t be trusted - a major reason behind our members’ rejection of an agreement designed to offset the impacts of contracting out.

“I am urging government not to slam the door shut on further cooperation with health unions,” added Allnutt. “Putting health privatization on hold until the fall is in the public interest and would be a significant sign of good faith that government is committed to rebuilding trust and exploring alternatives.”

Allnutt says health unions have just wrapped up a series of meetings reviewing the results of the recent ratification vote and would use the space created by a moratorium to canvas the issues that led to the rejection of the tentative deal.

“There is an agreement that can be reached that would lessen the impact of contracting out on patients and workers and we must make every effort to find it,” says Allnutt. “The alternative is an ill-thought out privatization agenda that will destroy morale on health care’s front lines and involve considerable risk to patients and taxpayers.”

Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)