VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The provincial government is spending as much as $10 million a month to make sure 4,200 health care workers no longer have to log hours with more than one employer.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says this stems from public safety orders issued last month by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to prevent the movement of staff from one facility to another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And it ensures that all of them receive an equitable wage and scheduling stability, so they can work at a single site, without financial hardship or patient service disruption. In addition, employee preferences will be accommodated wherever possible in this process.”
After confirming 30 of 50 deaths have been at long-term care homes, the Health Minister says employment agreements have been made to ensure staff are not working at more than one facility during this crisis. @adriandix says this will cost about $10M/month. #bcpoli @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) April 9, 2020
Concerns were quickly raised about private sector workers often dividing their time between three care homes or not being paid as much as unionized employees.
Dix says orders under the Public Health and Emergency Programs Acts impact support workers at various pay grades in public, non-profit and private facilities, so this agreement protects those who are unionized and allows workers to keep seniority.
“Let me be clear. This does not alter the existing framework of how long-term care and assisted living services are provided and I want to acknowledge all involved –the HEU, the BCNU, the BCGEU, the BC Care Providers and many more– all of whom have supported this change.”
Dix adds more than 20,000 workers had to be consulted because this unique collaboration involves 50 to 60 labour agreements.
“So people who are earning a different amount in two different care homes don’t have to choose based on the amount they’re earning. So that’s the reason why there’s extra costs. It’s in some cases salary increases and some case it’ll be increasing in hours, but it’s principally addressing salary differentials.”
Dix adds their collective focus is protecting many seniors and others in group care homes from COVID-19.