At a ceremony in the Parliament Buildings’ Hall of Honour, Premier David Eby joined health care workers and members of the legislative assembly to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the passing of Bill 47.
Since then, 4,601 health services workers have returned to the public system, resulting in more stable, consistent and supportive patient care for people throughout the province.
“The people who clean our hospitals and care homes, provide food and care to our loved ones, deserve to be treated like the valued members of the public health team that they are,” said Premier Eby. “This anniversary is an important milestone in the work started by John Horgan and Adrian Dix to reverse the failed privatization policies of the past, deliver fairness to workers and better care for people. To all those coming back to the public sector, I say: Welcome home.”
The change comes after almost 20 years of these workers having their services contracted out to private companies. This paved the way for years of contracting out, contract flipping and layoffs that saw 9,000 people, mostly women, lose jobs and benefits.
“Environmental and food service workers within the public health system play a vital role in our delivery of seamless, high quality care to patients across our province,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “I am deeply proud of the accomplishments our government is able to make under Bill 47, because bringing back justice, respect and fair wages for these workers was a key priority for our government. Today, we celebrate every single one of the 4,601 workers whose lives have changed for the better now that they have stable, well-paying jobs.”
Since the bill was passed in November 2018, workers have been repatriated across health authorities and Providence Health Care:
- Fraser Health – 1,163 workers at 31 sites
- Island Health – 967 workers at 12 sites
- Providence Health Care – 551 workers at 7 sites
- Provincial Health Services Authority – 247 workers at five sites
- Vancouver Coastal Health – 1,673 workers at 44 sites
“I could not be happier with all the progress made since the legislation was passed back in 2018,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors' Services and Long-Term Care. “Bringing these workers back in house is benefiting not only them, but also their families, the patients they care for and communities as a whole. Today is a great day.”
Work to bring health care service workers back into the public system began in 2019 with the passage of Bill 47 (Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act). Bill 47 repealed the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill 94), which had facilitated contracting out in the health sector and caused significant labour impacts.
To address inequality and enhance working conditions for employees in health care facilities, government is ensuring workers have the benefits, pension and wages that they deserve to be able to help patients. Evidence has shown that employees who feel secure and safe in their jobs provide higher quality care for people and, in turn, employers can attract and retain staff at a higher and more consistent level.
Learn more about Bill 47: https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2018HLTH0102-002147.htm
A backgrounder follows.
What people are saying about repatriating workers under Bill 47
Harry Bains, Minister of Labour –
“All workers deserve stable employment that treats them with dignity and respect, but that was not the case for thousands of health care workers whose jobs were privatized and contracted out, leading to job loss and decreased pay and benefits. For the past four years we have been welcoming those workers back to fair wages, benefits, job security and a supportive workplace, and we will continue to improve supports and protections for all workers.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO, Fraser Health –
“All Fraser Health staff and medical staff play valuable roles and are integral to providing the care people need in the communities we serve. Over the past four years we are proud to have worked closely with our partners to repatriate staff working in our hospitals and in our community and long-term care sites back to Fraser Health. I am pleased to celebrate this milestone and acknowledge the talents, skills and contributions from more than 1,000 staff who are now part of Fraser Health.”
Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health –
“Bringing these valued team members back to Island Health has played a key role in developing an even stronger, more engaged health care team. Bringing housekeeping and food services workers back in house has had such a positive impact on everyone involved and we are proud to have spearheaded this effort in Island Health.”
Fiona Dalton, president and CEO, Providence Health Care –
“It’s been my privilege to officially welcome more than 550 food and environmental services staff to join, and in some cases rejoin, Providence Health Care. Over the last four months, I have seen the positive impact of repatriation on staff, patients and residents. I am delighted to formally recognize these dedicated and hard-working individuals who do the essential and life saving work of keeping our facilities clean and the people we serve fed, as part of team Providence. Recent years have showed us how we are all part of one team working together to provide exceptional care. On behalf of everyone at Providence, we thank our food and environmental services staff and warmly welcome everyone back into the Providence family.”
David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority –
“Our health care support service staff work closely alongside clinical staff to provide high quality care. They are a critical part of our team in ensuring patients feel as comfortable and cared for as possible. I am pleased to be part of celebrating these team members and the important work they do, day in and day out. As part of the larger team of health care professionals, these individuals define what it means to be in service of others in moments of need and I am truly grateful for their dedication and compassion.”
Vivian Eliopoulos, president and CEO, Vancouver Coastal Health –
“We are very pleased to welcome back our environmental services and food services staff to Vancouver Coastal Health. We greatly appreciate their contributions and truly value their dedication to providing for the needs of patients, clients and residents across our acute and community sites.”
Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) –
“Four years ago, the B.C. government passed legislation that changed the lives of many health care workers in B.C. Housekeepers and food-service workers are vital to patient safety and care. Reuniting them with the health care team is where they belong. Their return in house also reverses two decades of privatization that fragmented our health care system and devastated the lives of thousands of mostly racialized and women workers.”
Aida Costelo, housekeeper, Langley Memorial Hospital –
"It was a big change for me when I came to Fraser Health. I have the best salary I've ever had, the benefits are great and the Municipal Pension Plan is a bonus for me. It's less stressful than before, too. I'm so happy right now. Thank you to the B.C. government for making this change."
Darcy Leeworthy, food-service worker, Royal Jubilee Hospital –
“Our work plays a critical role in delivering the best care possible to the patients in our hospital. Over the last year, we have felt valued and our contributions are recognized more than ever. We are so proud to be a part of the Island Health team.”
Tom Wong, food services supervisor, Holy Family Hospital –
“I am excited at the opportunity to work even closer with the rest of the health care team in providing exceptional assistance to those staying in the facility.”
Nathapriya Thayaal, housekeeping aide, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital –
“I am happy to join with Providence Health Care. I hope I will get a better shift … and also glad about our benefits, too. Thank you.”
Hussein Rashid, housekeeping supervisor, BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital –
“The repatriation of health care service workers back to PHSA was a very positive and welcome change, not just for supervisors but all of the housekeepers. I’m proud to see how much has improved for these employees, including working conditions and the overall protection of our staff. On top of that, the wage increases and additional benefits are well-appreciated and have enabled our health care service workers to feel reassured in their role as integral and valued members of the PHSA health care team.”
Clarissa Hicap, housekeeper, Vancouver General Hospital –
“Housekeepers are so important for patient care and safety in our hospitals. Four years ago, when the government passed Bill 47, it was a great relief for us. We were looking forward to being recognized for our important work. Being brought back into the public sector means that we are on the same team as everyone else at our hospital. This also means better protections and benefits for us.”
Cora Mojica, food-service worker, Vancouver General Hospital –
“When workers and government work together, we can change things. Repealing these laws is a giant step towards restoring justice and fairness for health care workers and repairing the damage that’s been done to health care delivery. Today, HEU members are proud to be reunited with their colleagues in hospital housekeeping and food services. Bringing workers back into the public sector is a recognition of the vital role they play in our health care system, keeping patients safe and well-cared for.”