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The district of British Columbia is returning to in-house hiring for area hospitals in an attempt to improve wages, provide a better work environment and make frontline work more desirable for potential employees, the Ministry of Health announced

People in acute care facilities will have more consistent, safe and stable patient care, now that government is bringing thousands of support service workers and services that were previously contracted out back to work directly for health authorities, after almost 20 years of these services being contracted to private companies.

Beginning this fall, the Province will serve notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts and start a phased approach to repatriating housekeeping and foodservice contracts. The move will improve wages, working conditions, 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 a stable and effective workforce, government will be better positioned to offer attractive jobs options to people interested in joining the workforce.

This move started with Bill 47 (Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act), which was brought 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 Bill 47 repealed two existing pieces of legislation - the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill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 facilitated contracting out in the health sector and caused significant labour impacts.

To address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in health-care facilities, 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.”

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.

The pandemic's impact on cleaning importance has led to positive strides for frontline workers in other regions as well. Last week, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 49 negotiated new terms with several management companies in the Portland — leading to higher wages, a fund for training programs, and more. Read more on that here