Fraser Health welcomes back 194 housekeeping, food-service workers

PEOPLE accessing health care in the Lower Mainland will benefit from more stable, consistent and supportive patient care as 194 housekeeping and food-service workers return to the public system as Fraser Health employees.

The change comes after almost 20 years of these workers having their services contracted out to private companies.

“Housekeeping and food-service workers make vital contributions to our health-care system on a daily basis, and the decision to contract these workers out has had devastating impacts,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Thursday.

“Today, we are celebrating the fact that 194 more workers are being welcomed back as members of our health-care team and the government’s commitment to bettering the retention and recruitment of our valuable health-service workers in B.C.”

Health authorities and Providence Health Care continue to repatriate workers under Bill 47, bringing an estimated 4,000 workers back into the public system.

On September 2, a further 194 workers will be repatriated to six Fraser Health sites:

* Mission Memorial Hospital and The Residence in Mission

* Heritage Village

* Cottage Worthington Pavilion

* Fraser Canyon Hospital and Fraser Hope Lodge

* Holmberg House Hospice

* Cypress, Cottonwood and Connolly Lodges

“Ensuring that our health-care service workers are part of the team is vital to building a stronger public health-care system and a stronger B.C. for all of us,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care.

“I am proud of the ongoing progress made under Bill 47 to bring health-care service workers back and provide them with the job security they deserve.”

To address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in health-care facilities, government is ensuring that workers have the benefits, wages and working conditions that they deserve to be able to help patients.

Evidence has shown that employees who feel secure and safe in their jobs provide higher-quality care for people, and in turn, employers can attract and retain staff at a higher and more consistent level.

Following the initial announcement on August 30, 2021, health authorities and Providence Health Care served notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts, and began a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food-service contracts, beginning with Island Health.

Work to bring health-care service workers back into the public system began in 2019, when the Province brought Bill 47 (Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act) into force. Bill 47 repealed the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill 94), which had facilitated contracting out in the health sector and caused significant labour impacts.

In 2020, the process was started with the North Island Hospitals, which spearheaded the move independently of Bill 47 to bring 150 contracted-out workers in-house at the Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals.

Harry Bains, Minister of Labour and MLA for Surrey-Newton, said: “Bringing back Fraser Health’s housekeeping and food-service workers into the public system recognizes their importance and shows our appreciation for the vital work they do every day. Fraser Health and the patients in care there are all the better for it, too.”

Dr. Victoria Lee, President and CEO, Fraser Health, said: “Our patients, clients and residents benefit greatly from the quality of care made possible by our housekeeping and food-service workers. Their passion and commitment have helped our health system stay resilient through challenging times and, as Fraser Health employees, they are valued members of the care team. Fraser Health is delighted to welcome these workers back to the family this fall.”

Meena Brisard, Secretary-Business Manager, Hospital Employees’ Union, said: “Housekeepers and food-service workers are critical to patient safety and care in our health-care system. By bringing these jobs back into the public service, the government is reversing the failed privatization policies of the past that fragmented our health-care system. Reuniting these workers with the health-care team means a stronger health-care system and better working conditions for these frontline workers, most of whom are women or racialized workers.”

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