"This is a win for seniors as much as it is for workers." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Victoria (28 Feb. 2020) — Following 6 months of negotiations, over 500 BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) members working at Broadmead Care Society in Victoria ratified a tentative deal this week that will improve conditions for both workers and seniors at the non-profit organization.
Members secured wage increases, weekend shift premiums and the continuation of their Short-Term Illness and Injury Plan (STIIP) benefits.
Working conditions had deteriorated
"This news is most welcome in a sector that has been struggling for decades due to low wages and, therefore, the inability to retain qualified staff," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "Our members care deeply about their clients, so this is a win for seniors as much as it is for workers."
The quality of seniors' care in BC, particularly among for-profit facilities, began to degrade after the BC Liberals enacted legislation in the early 2000s that led to the deterioration of working conditions for health and social-sector workers.
It also stripped workplace protections and rights and enabled contract-flipping which created a race to the bottom in terms of wages. The BC NDP repealed these laws in late 2018, but the damage will take years to undo.
Restore seniors' care as a public service
"We must restore seniors' care as a whole in BC and our union wants to see the problematic for-profit model of care eliminated and moved into government as a public service," Smith continues. "Only then will we have a long-term solution that supports our dedicated workforce with good wages and benefits to deliver the standard of care BC seniors deserve."
BCGEU/NUPGE members at Broadmead Care Society work as health care workers, activity workers, social workers, therapy assistants, and building maintenance workers, as well as, in food service, administration, and more. The BCGEU represents over 8,000 members in seniors' care with 3,000 working in residential care facilities.