British Columbia is returning to in-house hospital staffing in what the Ministry of Health says is an attempt to improve wages, provide a better work environment, and make frontline work more desirable for potential employees.
In particular, the government intends to ensure that workers in acute care facilities will have more consistent, safe and stable patient care by bringing in thousands of support service workers and services that were previously contracted out back to work directly for health authorities.
In B.C., these hospital staffing services have been contracted to private companies for almost two decades.
Beginning this fall, B.C. will serve notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts and start a phased approach to repatriating housekeeping and foodservice contracts. The move, it says, will improve wages, working conditions, and job security and stability for approximately 4,000 workers who rely on their jobs, and the countless patients that they help each day.
By promoting stable and effective hospital staffing, the government will be better positioned to offer attractive jobs options to people interested in joining the workforce.
To address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in healthcare facilities, the 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.
“Having fought for the rights of workers, I understand how devastating it can be when these entitlements are taken away,” says Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Restoring these rights for thousands of health-care workers in B.C. is a step towards better wages, job security, and improved working conditions.”
The government is currently working with the Hospital Employees’ Union, health authorities, and contractors on a phased-in plan that allows employers to address this change in a way that strengthens and enhances the health system’s services.