July 8, 2018 7:53 pm
Updated: July 9, 2018 11:47 am

Workers rally against layoffs at two Coquitlam seniors care homes

Dozens of people turned out to rally in Coquitlam, protesting major layoffs at Lakeshore and Madison care centres and calling on the government to step in. Tanya Beja reports.

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Dozens of workers and members of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) turned out to a rally in Coquitlam on Sunday, protesting against major layoffs at two of the city’s seniors care homes.

The union says about 150 people working at the privately-operated Madison Care Centre and Lakeshore Care Centre have been handed layoff notices.

The two facilities have both public and privately-funded beds. Together, they house about 200 seniors in total.

The layoffs are due to the facilities’ owner switching subcontractors, according to the union. It says affected staff will include care aides, licensed practical nurses, activity workers, housekeepers and food service workers.

READ MORE: B.C.’s seniors advocate says shortage of care aides due to low wages, not supply

The Care Group, which owns the homes, said the current contractor has decided to retire from the business.

HEU spokesperson Mike Old said while no worker wants to lose their job, the people that are truly being penalized are the residents of the care homes.

“The layoff of these workers is gonna have a big impact on the quality of care for the seniors of those facilities,” he said.

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Care aide Amalia Reyes said the problem is more than just staffing levels. She said pulling long-time care aides away from residents they’ve spent years with will be traumatic.

“I treat them as my family and we are bonded to them,” she said.

“Every day for four years you went to work with them in the morning, and then all of a sudden there’s a possibility that I cannot work with them anymore.”

READ MORE: BC Care Providers Association projects 2,800 vacant jobs in senior care over five years

The union is calling on Health Minister Adrian Dix and the Fraser Health Authority to step in and stop the layoffs.

The Care Group says it is in the process of selecting a new contractor. It says it is encouraging laid-off staff to reapply with the new company, and that it expects many of them will be hired on.

-With files from the Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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