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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

    More Layoffs, Firings as BC Health Care Crisis Deepens

    The controversial Bill 29, the bill that broke the master contract of the Hospital Employees Union and empowered employers to fire union health workers and contract out their jobs, is before BC Supreme Court. But the job cuts and facility closures continue.

    The latest move by the Salvation Army at the Sunset Long-term care facility in Victoria lay off 60 workers, many who have been there since the facility opened 24 years ago, and contract out their jobs to a for-profit contractor. The workers there are paid minimum wage with no benefits.

    Sally Ann bosses say the move is due to budget cuts by the BC Liberal government and the local health authority. But the workers say the bosses rejected an offer by the union to make up the $200,000 budget shortfall.

    "Clearly the Sally Ann is more interested in eliminating its stable, dedicated workforce, than in finding a solution to any budget dilemmas it may face," says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. "In fact, our members offered more than the $200,000 this employer originally said it required to avert privatization plans. Given the Salvation Army's stated commitment to help people in poverty, we are surprised they would take such a callous approach to their own workforce.”

    Meanwhile, an additional 84 nurses and support staff have been laid off at the cherished St. Mary’s hospital in New Westminster. The government is moving ahead with plans to close the 116-year-old hospital, despite a widespread community effort by local residents to keep it open.

    Pleasant View Care Home bosses laid off an additional 64 resident care workers, after laying off 21 keeping and housekeeping staff earlier this year. The facility is being downsized as residents have been forcefully relocated to other facilities. Again bosses refused to consider a cost-saving proposal by staff members.

    Ninety-three laundry and maintenance workers at Vancouver Hospital will be losing their jobs as a result contracting out to a minimum wage contractor.

    Union officials are calling on the government to make the conditions of all contracted out services public. Last year, the government removed much of the information about the awarding of contracts from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

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