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B.C. continues to ‘repatriate’ health-care workers as it scales back outsourcing

July 25, 2022
By Talent Canada


Jim Pattison Emergency Centre at Lions Gate Hospital. Photo: VCH

British Columbia continues to turn back the clock on decades of outsourcing as it “repatriates” workers in the health-care sector who are working for contractors.

People accessing health care in the Lower Mainland, North Shore, Sunshine Coast and Sea-to-Sky are benefiting from more stable, consistent and supportive patient care as food-service workers who were previously contracted out return as Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) employees, the province said in a press release.

“Bill 47 is important to health-service workers who work within our public health system and to the patients they care for,” said Adrian Dix, Health Minister. “This legislation ensures better working conditions, job security and equitable wages for workers whose contributions to our health-care system are undeniable. I sincerely thank VCH for their tremendous efforts in transitioning these food-service workers back in-house and for their commitment to improving quality of care for patients.”

Health authorities and Providence Health Care continue to repatriate workers under Bill 47, bringing an estimated 4,000 workers back into the public system. A total of 283 food-services workers in the Coastal Community of Care at VCH will be repatriated on July 22, 2022, it said.

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“Bringing these integral health-care services workers back in-house means patients will receive more dedicated health care and workers can look forward to building a career in the health sector and a better future for their families,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long Term Care. “Everyone at VCH who has made this transition possible should be proud of their efforts as I am very proud of them.”

Job security for employees

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 Aug. 30, 2021, health authorities and Providence Health Care served notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts and have started a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food-service contracts.

Work started in 2019

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 began with North Island Hospitals, which spearheaded the move independently of Bill 47 to bring 150 contracted-out workers in-house at North Island Campus Campbell River and District, and Comox Valley Hospital.

“The return of food-service workers to the public system is a recognition that these workers are critical to patient care and safety,” said Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union. “By bringing these workers back in-house, the provincial government is reversing nearly two decades of privatization that fragmented our public health-care system, while devastating the lives of thousands health-care workers, most of whom are women or racialized workers.”


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