B.C. to ban contract-flipping at seniors care homes

VICTORIA – B.C. is moving to ban the practice of contract flipping at seniors care homes and other health facilities, where employees are laid off and rehired at lower wages.

Health Minister Adrian Dix introduced legislation Thursday that ends a practice that allows unionized workers to be fired en masse by contracted employers, and then rehired for their same jobs under weaker contracts for less pay.

“To truly make a difference for patients and seniors in care, we need to focus on the continuity of care they receive,” Dix said in a statement. “This legislation will help to enhance the team-based care environment people count on at every level, from hospitals to care homes and in the community.”

The practice has become widespread in B.C., with some facilities, such as Wexford Creek seniors care home in Nanaimo, laying off unionized employees and rehiring them for lower wages several times in recent years as contracts and facility ownership changed. It has also been an issue in Lower Mainland care homes, and in some health care facilities involving food services and maintenance staff which are employed by private companies contracted at publicly-funded facilities.

Critics have said it not only makes for poor working conditions for staff, but also leads to uncertainty for frail seniors who rely on increasingly disgruntled staff for their care.

It applies to contracted workers in positions like food services, care aides, housekeepers, maintenance workers and administrators.

Dix’s legislation will repeal two bills first introduced by Gordon Campbell more than a decade ago – bills 29 and 94, that opened what became loopholes for contract terminations but were also successfully challenged in court. Dix told the legislation it led to the layoff of more than 10,000 people and had long been opposed by NDP members. NDP MLAs gave him a standing ovation at the introduction of the bill.

More to come…




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