Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union. (Black Press)

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

The B.C. government’s commitment to raise care standards in seniors’ homes turns out to be an additional $548 million over the next three years in the NDP government’s first budget.

What remains to be seen is whether that money is enough to attract and hold workers, says a leader of the union representing many employees working in residential care homes.

“There is no question that we have a recruitment and retention crisis in long-term care for seniors,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees Union. “For too many staff who provide this important care to seniors, the work is unstable. They are at risk of losing their jobs.”

Whiteside points to Finnish Manor, a Burnaby facility where the owners laid off the entire staff of 50 last week, then contracted out the jobs with what she says are lower wages and benefits.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie does annual surveys of care home service levels. Her latest report in January found 85 per cent of B.C.’s 293 publicly funded residential care homes don’t have enough staff to provide the 3.35 hours per patient per day that the health ministry sets as a standard.

Mackenzie found that facilities owned and operated by regional health authorities are generally funded to meet the care hours, as well as higher rates of therapy and more physically dependent residents than contracted operators.

Mike Klassen, communications director for the B.C. Care Providers’ Association, says the additional money is “good news for B.C. seniors.” But recruiting more staff is going to be challenging, as the government’s plan to expand child care creates additional demand on the same pool of employees needed by seniors’ homes.

Whiteside says care aides need higher wages as well as an expectation of stable work.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says 900 additional care aides are needed to meet the care standard across the province. The additional money allows health authorities to offer full-time work to part-time and casual employees.

Just Posted

Police investigating ‘unprovoked attack’ at Uptown bus stop

Man was attacked while waiting at Douglas St bus stop Sunday night

Intense winds could reach 70km in Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issued wind warning for Dec. 17

Saanich police are seeking suspect in sexual assault report

Incident happened early Saturday morning near Rudd Park

PHOTOS: Skate with Santa a smashing success in Oak Bay

Missed the fun? A second event is set for Dec. 18

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

10-lane George Massey bridge too big, B.C. study says

Consultants say replacement tunnel cost similar to new bridge

Canada’s robust credit rating should calm unease about federal deficits: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canada’s long-running triple-A rating means experts have confidence in his government’s approach to the economy

CIBC shrinks event after Whistler mayor irks oil producers

After Whistler sent a letter to a Calgary-based oilsands giant, several energy firms said they would back out of the CIBC event.

Couple caught up in B.C. Legislature bomb plot to learn their fate

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested as part of an undercover RCMP sting on Canada Day 2013

Trial rights of accused spy for China at risk, lawyer tells Supreme Court

The lawyer for a man accused of trying to spy for China says federal foot-dragging over secrecy is endangering his client’s right to timely justice.

‘Recall fatigue’: Canadians may avoid certain foods over holidays

In the winter, Canada’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables tends to come from very specific areas.

Sea King helicopters make formal retirement flight Monday

Monday flight pattern includes Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Most Read