Housekeeping staff at all three Delta Hospital Campus of Care facilities are shifting back to direct employment by Fraser Health this month.
In all, 474 housekeeping services workers at 18 Fraser Health sites — including Delta Hospital, Mountain View Manor and the Irene Thomas Hospice — will become health authority employees in July, almost 20 years after the service they provide was contracted out to private companies.
“Bringing health-service workers back into the public system means better working conditions for them, better care for patients and a stronger health-care system for all of us,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release. “I am proud of Fraser Health for the incredible repatriation efforts they’ve made thus far.”
Last August, Dix and Labour Minister Harry Bains announced the government would be ending contracted housekeeping and food services in the health-care system, starting in March of this year as the existing agreements expire.
Following that announcement, health authorities and Providence Health Care served notice under the terms of 21 commercial service contracts and began a phased approach to repatriate housekeeping and food service contracts, beginning with Island Health.
In April of this year, 362 food service and housekeeping staff at Eagle Ridge, Royal Columbian and Burnaby Hospitals shifted back to direct employment by Fraser Health after the service contract with U.S.-based Aramark Corporation ended.
The government plans to bring an estimated 4,000 workers province-wide back under the direct employ of health authorities under Bill 47 (the Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act), which came into force in 2019. The act repeals two earlier laws adopted by the previous BC Liberal government in 2002 and 2003 that facilitated the contracting out of services in the health sector.
The change restores pensions and ends “decades of injustice” for people who have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when the province is trying to recruit more people to work in the system, Dix said in announcing the shift last summer.
Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager for the Hospital Employees’ Union, said reuniting housekeepers with the health-care team recognizes the essential role they play in patient care and safety and improves their lives by providing better wages and benefits, which in turn lead to less turnover and an improved public health-care system.
“What we’ve learned from these past 20 years of privatization is that contracting out disproportionately impacts women and racialized health-care workers. We can do better, and today we are,” Brisard said in a press release.
The shift back to direct employment is to continue over the next two years for contract employees of Aramark, Sodexo, SerVantage and Compass in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Other sites with housekeeping staff shifting back to direct employment by Fraser Health this month include Surrey Memorial Hospital, CareLife Fleetwood, Czorny Alzheimer Centre, Peace Arch Hospital, Dr. Al Hogg Pavilion, Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge, Langley Memorial Hospital, Rosewood, Marwood, Cedar Hill, Maple Hill, Ridge Meadows Hospital, Baillie House, Fellburn Care Centre and Queen’s Park Care Centre.
— with files from Tom Fletcher