B.C. health minister defends decision to roll privately-run home support services into health authorities

Click to play video: 'War of words continues over NDP decision to take control of home care'
War of words continues over NDP decision to take control of home care
WATCH: The NDP government is rejecting claims that its decision to take control of home care will lead to job losses. Richard Zussman reports – Mar 15, 2019

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is responding to criticism of the decision to have the government take control of employee contracts in privately-run home support services and rolling them back into Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health.

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, told Global News Thursday that he was “stunned” by the decision and the association was “not consulted about this.”

“We have been home care services in the province for decades and this just came completely out of the blue,” Fontaine said, adding that the decision will impact more than 4,000 workers.

Speaking to Global News on Friday, Dix said the government has been working with the care provider on Vancouver Island for some time to ensure a “seamless transition” on Nov. 1.

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WATCH: Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks to Global BC’s Sonia Sunger about health authorities taking control of contracts from external service providers

Click to play video: 'B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix responds to comments on seniors services'
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix responds to comments on seniors services

In the Lower Mainland, Dix said, the government has given a year’s notice, which he called “a lot of time to work through all the issues.”

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Dix said audits done between 2014 and 2017 found “concerns about the contracts,” leaving the government with the choice of re-tendering the contracts or integrating them with other health care services.

Dix said they chose the latter because “all of the people who receive the home care are receiving other services provided by the health authority.”

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In a release issued Friday, the BCCPA said “there will be a loss of an estimated 500 full-time jobs as a result of the B.C. health ministry’s plan to expropriate over 4,000 staff from non-government providers.”

Dix said he doesn’t expect any layoffs as a result of the transition.

When asked if he can give assurances that there won’t be layoffs, Dix said: “All I can say is we want them all to come and work in the system and that’s why we gave a year’s notice, more than a year’s notice in fact, to the care providers before we made this change.”

WATCH: BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine on the province taking over senior home care

Click to play video: 'Province taking over senior home care'
Province taking over senior home care

According to the BCCPA, “the employees slated to be laid off include long-time managers and team members working as schedulers, as human resources professionals, in benefits management, payroll, billing, information technology, and administrative positions not covered by the transition to government-run jobs with the health authorities.”

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The BCCPA added that “unlike with unionized frontline care workers, there is currently no legislation requiring that any of these support staff must be transferred into the health authorities.

When asked about support staff, Dix said: “We need the people who work in this sector to keep working in this sector.”

— With files from Richard Zussman

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