Roots of crisis ignored



Re: “Simons welcomes repeal of ‘contract-flipping’ bills,” Nov. 16.

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Having abandoned its opposition to for-profit care, the NDP government is now engaged in a campaign to convince voters that with a few modest reforms it has eliminated problems that it once argued were inherent to a private system.

The proposed legislation to restrict contract flipping would allow contracting-out to continue, provided existing labour agreements are honoured. It would, in other words, stop private operators from further driving down wages and benefits but do nothing to reverse the immense damage they have already caused.

As a union official in a recent Vancouver Sun article pointed out, contract flipping has created a situation where care aides at one facility may earn an hourly wage $7 below aides at a neighbouring one. Minister Dix shows no inclination to restore fair wages and benefits to these workers, or to take meaningful steps to ease the severe labour shortage that poverty wages have created.

The effects of contracting out are evident at Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe where dietary and housekeeping crews are routinely short-staffed and workers are stuck doing unwanted overtime. Important tasks often remain uncompleted and nurses and care aides are called away from their regular duties to assist with serving meals and cleaning dishes. Recruitment and turnover problems are chronic.

Successorship legislation means little if it doesn’t also guarantee fair wages and benefits. By ignoring the roots of the present crisis, Dix allows it to continue. If private operators face restrictions on the profit they can extract from labour costs, they’ll find it elsewhere. One way or another, patients suffer. To quote Nicholas Simons from a time when he openly denounced private care, “I’m strongly against the idea of introducing the profit motive in caring for seniors because we know that profit is taken away from the care.”

Ian McLatchie, Media Liaison, Protect Public Health Care - Sunshine Coast

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