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

Do you have the right ID to vote in Chilliwack’s municipal election?

Chilliwack residents will need identification that proves both residency and identity

Anti-SOGI Chilliwack school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Fraser Valley Labour Council endorses four Chilliwack school board candidates

Union group endorses three for city council, pulls endorsement for mayoral hopeful Sam Waddington

Man accused of killing Belgian tourist along Highway 1 appears in court

Sean McKenzie, 27, made second court appearance since his arrest in connection with the murder of Amelie Sakkalis

Driver assaulted near Agassiz following road rage incident

RCMP ask for public’s help identifying suspects involved in Highway 9 incident

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Prank pizzas delivered to B.C. mayor on election night

The fake orders happened throughout Victoria mayor’s re-election campaign

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Horvat nets OT winner as Canucks beat Bruins 2-1

Young Vancouver star had spirited scrap earlier in contest

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

3 in serious condition after altercation on Granville strip: police

Patrol officers came upon the fight just after 3 a.m. on Granville Street near Helmcken Street

B.C. passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Pedestrian rushed to Lower Mainland hospital after being hit by car

Friday night crash is latest in rash of collisions involving pedestrians in Surrey

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

Most Read