UPDATED MONDAY, MARCH 4, 11 A.M.:
Unionized members of a Vernon extended care facility plan to send a message to their employers Monday.
Hospital Employees Union workers at Good Samaritan Heron Grove, on 20th Street, will take to the street for a one-hour demonstration from 3 to 4 p.m. to protest staff recruitment and retention, and lack of a newly signed collective bargaining agreement.
“We love our residents and we work hard to make sure they get the care they need everyday,” said Julie Heal, a health care aide at Heron Grove and a member of the facility’s bargaining committee.
“But to give quality care, you need quality jobs.”
Heal said Heron Grove continually trains new hires only to lose them to better-paying jobs, leaving Heron Grove short-staffed.
The HEU and Good Samaritan Canada, which oversees the facility, have been at the bargaining table for nine months with no progress on a new collective agreement.
Good Samaritan staff are looking for assurances their jobs won’t be contracted out, ending the relationships they’ve built with residents and their families.
“We’ve proposed solutions but the employer won’t agree,” said Heal.
Employees are also looking for wages that keep up with other facilities and with the cost of living.
Residents at Heron Grove will continue to be looked after during the one-hour demonstration.
The HEU is hoping residents and members of other unions will show support by joining Monday’s demonstration.
Good Samaritan sites in Penticton (Village By The Station) and Salmon Arm (Pioneer Lodge, Hillside Village), along with one in Gibsons, will also hold side-street demonstrations Monday. Facilities in Delta and New Westminster will hold demonstrations Tuesday.
Good Samaritan Canada and Good Samaritan Society director of communications and media relations Shirley Nowicki said Monday that recruitment is an issue in all areas of health care across B.C.
“The B.C. Care Providers Association, who we are a member of, are the leading voice that represent non-government providers for seniors care, and they’re having talks with all levels of government to address recruitment issues,” said Nowicki. “There are definitely challenges. We are very aware of that. The BCCPA and ourselves are trying to come up with strategies to manage recruitment issues in our sector.”
Nowicki said the employer will hear the employees’ message Monday, loud and clear.
“Absolutely. They’re in their full right to have their voice heard,” said Nowicki. “The demonstration is part of the process. We respect what they’re doing. We want to hear what they’re saying and we’re listening.”
Two days of talks between the union and employer are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
(Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original form to include comments from Good Samaritan Canada).