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

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

Giants owner Ron Toigo to get BC Sports Hall of Fame W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based hockey team to be honoured at May induction gala

UPDATED: Touching note left on Langley veteran’s windshield

A veteran hopes the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words. They do.

VIDEO: Young Langley boy uses his grief to help other kids suffering loss

Thursday Langley Hospice hosts its Paint the Town Blue campaign to spotlight child bereavement.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

5 to start your day

A choice on light rail versus SkyTrain for Surrey, a Chilliwack teacher suspended for touching a colleague’s buttocks and more

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Most Read