After nearly 20 years of private contract, housekeeping workers return to Burnaby Hospital

Housekeeping workers at the Burnaby Hospital are returning as Fraser Health employees after being contracted out to private companies for nearly 20 years.

Of a total of 362 repatriated workers, 92 belong to Burnaby Hospital, all in housekeeping, and is one of three Fraser Health sites to bring workers back in-house this month.

Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster will see 205 housekeeping workers repatriated, while Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody will see 65.

“With better wages, many workers in this sector will be more economically secure,” Gwenda Alexander, a housekeeper at Burnaby Hospital and local president of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU), whose position was recently been transferred internally.

“They may be able to cut their hours or even give up a second or third job they took to make ends meet.”

In 2018, the provincial government announced its intention to repeal the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29, 2002) and the Health Sector Partnership Agreement (Bill 94, 2003) in their entirety.

The government said the legislation would restore common employer succession and protections for healthcare workers and remove the main financial incentive of contract rollover for businesses to reduce or avoid labor costs. unionized work.

Bill 47, known as the Health Laws Repeal Act, came into force by regulation on July 1, 2019.

The province announced on August 31, 2021 that, starting in the fall, it would serve notice under 21 commercial service contracts and begin a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food service contracts.

“Bill 47 was an important step in bringing fundamental fairness to public health care in our province,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in 2021.

“The repatriation of housekeeping and catering contracts is good for patients, for workers, for the healthcare team and for the recruitment of future healthcare workers. It heals those who do the essential and vital work of keeping our hospitals and facilities clean and ensure the nutrition of our patients with fairness and dignity.There is always more to do, but I am very proud of these decisions and the value they place on public health care.

Island Health transferred the first group of workers in November 2021.

“When housekeepers and orderlies were contracted out to private companies almost 20 years ago, they were separated from the rest of the healthcare team and pushed to the margins of our health care system. health, earning low wages and sub-standard benefits,’ hospital workers,” the union’s secretary-commercial officer, Meena Brisard, said in a press release.

“The current repatriation of health care workers to public sector employment is the result of nearly 20 years of campaigning by our members. This will bring stability and safety to these workers, as well as better care.

The hospital workers’ union estimates that more than 4,000 healthcare workers will be recruited internally by the end of this year.