People in health-care facilities on Vancouver Island are benefiting from stable, consistent and supportive patient care as more support-service workers and workers in services previously contracted out return in-house as Island Health employees.
This comes after almost 20 years of these services being contracted to private companies.
“Island Health is leading the way, first with the two North Island Hospital campuses in 2020, next with six long-term care sites in the South Island last November, and now with this third wave of bringing workers back in-house,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We have seen how important Bill 47 is to workers and to patients, and I am proud to be a part of this transition to fairness and equitable wages for those important people working hard in our hospitals to keep them running smoothly. You are essential to us, and we recognize your job means British Columbians are well cared for in our facilities.”
Following the initial announcement on Aug. 30, 2021, health authorities served notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts, and are starting a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food service contracts, beginning with Island Health.
“It’s excellent to see how Island Health is phasing in staff and we welcome food service workers back in this second stage,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Services and Long Term Care. “It’s a strong reminder that we care for our loved ones in health facilities, which means we, in turn, must care for those who work hard to make their lives happy and healthy. Keep up the good work.”
Workers at two more Island Health sites are joining staff at the initial six announced on Nov. 26, 2021. Approximately 170 more food services workers will be brought in-house, for a new total of 405 workers repatriated to the following facilities:
- Royal Jubilee Hospital - new
- Victoria General Hospital - new
- Saanich Peninsula Hospital
- Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health
- Glengarry Hospital
- Aberdeen Hospital
- Gorge Road Hospital
- Priory (Hiscock and Heritage Woods) long-term care
“Dedicated people who had worked hard for years to provide quality services and build lives for themselves and their families lost their jobs,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “They had to reapply for their own positions, at lower wages with no seniority and no labour protections. I am gratified to see that wrong now being righted.”
Health authorities, starting with Island Health, will continue to repatriate workers under Bill 47 over the next two years, 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 had significant labour consequences.
In 2020, the process was started 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.
Evidence has shown that employees who feel secure and safe in their jobs provide higher-quality care for people. In turn, employers can attract and retain staff at a higher and more consistent level.
For more information about housekeeping and food services employment opportunities, join the Island Health Virtual Hiring Fair: http://join.islandhealth.ca/hiringfair/
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 welcome-back announcement: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021HLTH0211-002269
Three backgrounders follow.