People in health-care facilities on Vancouver Island are benefiting from stable, consistent and supportive patient care as housekeeping and food service workers previously contracted out return in-house as Island Health employees.
This comes after almost 20 years of these services being contracted out to private companies.
“Now that Vancouver Island housekeeping and food service workers are back as in-house employees, an injustice committed almost two decades ago has been corrected,” said Premier John Horgan and MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. “We know there is more to do. Today, we celebrate the fact that the people who keep local hospitals and care homes clean and safe will once again be treated like the valued members of the health team that they are.”
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said: “The decision to contract out health-care service workers had devastating impacts that have been felt for decades by workers and by our health-care system as a whole. After years of having their services under-valued, south and central Island health-care service workers have re-joined Island health as in-house employees. This means better working conditions for workers, and better health care for all of us.”
Following the initial announcement on Aug. 30, 2021, health authorities 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.
“We’ve followed along with the progress made at Island Health repatriating their service workers, and this is a great day for patients and workers alike,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Services and Long Term Care. “As Island Health completes its repatriations, we are reminded that service workers are crucial team members, and we value the care they provide daily to our loved ones in long-term care.”
Workers at south Island Health sites are now repatriated, for a new total of 967 workers repatriated to the following facilities:
- Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
- Dufferin Place
- Cowichan District Hospital
- Cairnsmore Place
- Royal Jubilee Hospital
- Victoria General Hospital
- Saanich Peninsula Hospital
- Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health
- Glengarry Hospital
- Aberdeen Hospital
- Gorge Road Hospital
- Priory long-term care
Health authorities will continue to repatriate workers under Bill 47 over the next year, bringing an estimated 4,000 workers back in-house. Other health authorities repatriating food and housekeeping staff include Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health.
This move started when the B.C. government brought Bill 47 (Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act) into force through regulation on July 1, 2019. Bill 47 repealed two existing pieces of legislation – 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.
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.
Learn more about Bill 47:
For the Aug. 30, 2021, announcement on Bill 47: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021HLTH0157-001703
See Island Health’s first welcoming back announcement: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021HLTH0211-002269
Two backgrounders follow.