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Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION

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SPRING 2017 • VOL. 35 • NO. 1

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Better health care can happen here.  votehealthcare.ca

Authorized by the Hospital Employees’ Union, Donisa Bernardo, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 1-800-663-5813

AGREEMENT NUMBER 40007486

RETURN TO The Guardian 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby, B.C. V5J 5M3

As BC prepares to go to the polls, the Guardian looks at what’s at stake and how members are mobilizing.


Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION

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SPRING 2017

What’s at stake on May 9?

HEU members have the numbers and power to make a difference

FEATURE

Meet John Horgan B.C.’s NDP Leader pledges his support for workers and the issues they care about | 7

NEWS

Injured workers Government to divert millions of WorkSafeBC dollars to employers | 5

Building solidarity Contracted support service members ramp up campaign for fair contract | 10

Joshua Berson PHOTO

UNITED | HEU members joined their sisters, brothers and friends across the labour movement in November to launch the B.C. Federation of Labour’s campaign for a better B.C.

WHAT’S REALLY at stake

7 COLUMNS Viewpoint

How B.C. Liberal rule has set back women’s equality by decades | 6

President’s Desk

No excuse for failure to support vulnerable youth in care | 6

Voices

Why British Columbians support a $10 a day child care plan | 10

in this election boils down to the kind of society HEU members want for themselves, their families and future generations. Sixteen years of B.C. Liberal rule has taken a severe toll on the things that matter most to HEU members – health care, social services, decent jobs, education, the environment, and much more. The damage was initially seeded in 2001 when Gordon Campbell’s newly elected government made one of its first orders of business to slash taxes for the wealthy and corporations. It proved a reckless and costly mistake that created a revenue loss of $3 billion a year, and set the stage for a flood of cuts to the programs and public services British Columbians rely on. Hospitals were closed or downgraded. Public schools and care homes were shut down. Women’s programs were cut. Employment standards were weakened. Fees were hiked on everything from MSP to BC Hydro to ICBC. And within a few short months of taking office, HEU members will not forget how Gordon Campbell, with Christy Clark at his side, broke his promise to respect health care workers’ collective agreements. Instead, the BC Liberals rammed Bill 29 through the legislature and

cleared the way for the privatization of health care support services – which resulted in the largest mass layoff of women workers in Canadian history. With a privatization spree unleashed across the health care sector, British Columbians watched as the vast majority of new long-term care beds were built in the private sector. The corporatization of seniors’ care had begun in earnest. And with it, for-profit care providers had the unfettered ability to contract out services, and flip contracts, firing entire staff teams in the process and then hiring staff at lower wages with fewer benefits. At the same time, the BC Liberals undertook a massive consolidation of services among Lower Mainland health authorities that has plunged service delivery into a perpetual state of reorganization, creating an ongoing state of anxiety and chaos for everyone affected. Fast forward to 2017 and the record couldn’t be more clear. By refusing to make the key investments needed to keep pace with the province’s growing population, B.C. has fallen from second to eighth place among Canadian provinces in its support for each British Columbian. As for seniors’ care, nine out

of every 10 care homes are not funded to even meet the government’s own minimum staffing guidelines. B.C. has the second highest poverty rate in the country, including child poverty, and is the only province in Canada that refuses to develop a poverty reduction plan. Social assistance rates have not been raised in a decade. A single person needing basic welfare receives $610 per month. And B.C.’s minimum wage at $10.85

Sixteen years of B.C. Liberal rule has taken a severe toll on the things that matter most to HEU members. per hour is among the lowest in Canada. It’s little wonder affordability has become such a critical issue in this election. Costs for essentials like housing, child care, hydro and food have all increased much faster than incomes, pushing more workers into poverty. In the last provincial election in 2013, the outcome was decided in just a few close seats where the margin of victory was very slim. Just 5,786 votes spread over a few local election races would have changed the outcome. In this election, make your vote count.

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 1


COMMENT Jennifer Whiteside | Secretary-Business Manager We can continue down the same path we’ve been on for 16 years, or we can elect a new government who’s committed to a different way of doing things, and then be prepared to hold their feet to the fire.

The outcome of this election is pivotal

THROWBACK HEU HISTORY

ON MAY 9, HEU MEMBERS HAVE a critical choice to make. For almost 16 years, we’ve borne the brunt of this government’s devastating fixation on privatization and constant restructuring. No area of care has been left unharmed – whether it be in acute care hospitals, long-term care homes, or community health and social services. Under the BC Liberals, health services have been privatized faster and deeper than any other province in Canada. If they’re not privatized, they’re being endlessly restructured and consolidated. And they’re definitely underfunded. What does this mean for HEU members? It means more instability, more stress, and heavier workloads. It means our health care team is fragmented between health authorities – and between public and for-profit employers. That also means union advocacy is disrupted when stewards can’t represent a member who works at the same site, but for a different employer. It means persistently high injury rates for health care workers, and deep frustration at not being able to provide care in a safe and timely way. There’s no question that health care will continue to change and evolve. But this can happen in one of two ways. Government can continue to mismanage from a position of indifference and disrespect, with its characteristic lack of regard for workers,

their rights, and the impact on patient care. Or, change can happen based on respect for workers, where they are valued for the skills, experience and knowledge they bring to our health care system. I think about HEU’s history and can remember the significant restructuring that took place in the 90s. At that time, HEU fought for a place at the table to ensure health care reform was driven by a clear set of principles that included an open dialogue with workers, and basic respect for the role unions play. That was possible under the NDP government of the day. By contrast, this government has resisted working with unions to the detriment of not just workers, but also to the public who depends on quality, accessible health care. It doesn’t have to be this way. HEU members have a choice. We can continue down the same path we’ve been on for 16 years, or we can elect a new government who’s committed to a different way of doing things, and then be prepared to hold their feet to the fire. The outcome of this election is pivotal. For anyone working in health care or community social services, we know what’s at stake in terms of our own working conditions and our collective ability to provide the timely, responsive care British Columbians rely on. May 9. The choice is clear.

BARRETT DEFENDS RECORD More than four decades ago, then-Premier Dave Barrett’s NDP government called a snap election just three years into its first term. Pictured above in the November 1975 issue of the Guardian is a feisty Barrett addressing B.C. Federation of Labour convention delegates about his government’s achievements in its first three years.

2 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017

Some of those highlights include: the Agricultural Land Reserve, a human rights code, pharmacare, neighbourhood pubs, the B.C. Cancer Control Agency, extending bargaining rights to provincial employees, and the B.C. Children’s Hospital.


NEWS

Your union. Your paper.

SENIORS’ CARE STAFFING CRISIS

Government responds to pressure FOR HEU MEMBERS who have fought for urgent action on seniors’ care through the union’s Care Can’t Wait campaign, the government’s March 9 announcement was greeted with a mixture of uncertainty and cautious optimism. “The Health Ministry’s plan validates the deep concerns raised by care staff, family members and seniors’ advocates,” says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “But the staffing crisis in residential care has been 15 years in the making, and it won’t be solved quickly.” The plan will add 1,500 new positions in residential care over the next four years. It includes 900 care aides, 300 LPNs, 165 RNs and 150 other positions such as rehab assistants and activity aides. However, even though nine out of 10 care homes are not funded to meet the government’s own minimum staffing guideline of 3.36 hours per resident per day, Whiteside says this plan falls short and will leave many care homes behind. That’s because funding to reach the minimum staffing level will be averaged over the entire health authority, and will not be calculated per site. “There’s no question this is a first step toward improving the staffing crisis, and our members can be proud of their efforts to pressure government to act. But our fight for better seniors’ care is far from over,” says Whiteside. “This plan will take four years to implement, which means for many, the wait for greater staffing will be too long,” she says. “And the plan

NOT OVER YET | HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside calls Health Ministry plan a first step, but more needs to be done.

does not address constant contracting out and contract-flipping by for-profit residential care providers, where entire staff teams are fired and replaced at lower wages with fewer benefits.” In recent months, HEU has spearheaded a strong member-led campaign in the workplace and the community. At the same time, the union conducted a high-profile public awareness campaign and submitted clear proposals to government on the necessary steps to resolve the crisis. In addition to calling for immediate funding to bring all care homes up to 3.36 hours per resident per day, the union called for legislated, enforceable staffing levels – instead of a minimum guideline – and clear accountability measures to ensure any new funds go to frontline staffing, not more profits. As for what’s next, Whiteside says the union will push for timely implementation of the new staffing

positions and will continue to grow the Care Can’t Wait campaign. “Our members need measures to deal with contracting out and contract-flipping,” she says. “And we need legislated staffing levels that are monitored and enforced. Anything less will continue to destabilize working and caring conditions in this sector.” About half of HEU’s 46,000 membership works directly with seniors, but most interact with seniors in some way as they journey through the health care system. “For our members, it’s personal,” says Whiteside. “They care deeply for their elderly patients and residents, and are up against extremely difficult working conditions that put themselves and those they care for at risk.” Health care workers have the highest rate of injury in the province, and of those, care aides working in residential care are most injured on the job.

sector residential care,” says Maire Kirwan, director of organizing and private sector bargaining. “But it’s also a testament to the faith workers have in HEU.” This spring, HEU also welcomed 56 members who work at The Heritage, an assisted and independent living site in West Kelowna. Employed by Diversicare Canada Management Services (West Kelowna division), workers organized themselves and made HEU their union of choice on March 15. The HEU certification includes care aides, cooks, dietary, house-

keeping, reception, hostess and servers.

SALE OF RETIREMENT CONCEPTS TO ANBANG APPROVED The sale of Retirement Concepts to an offshore private equity firm – Anbang Insurance – has been approved by the federal government and B.C. health authorities. Anbang purchased a controlling stake of the company through its Canadian subsidiary Cedar Tree Investments. All of Retirement Concepts seniors’ care sites in B.C. are included in the sale with the exception of Qualicum Gardens and Terraces on 7th. More than 1,850 Hospital Employees’ Union members work at 12 of the company’s B.C. sites as employees of Well Being Seniors Services. Retirement Concepts has assured the union that there will be no change in staff or leadership in its B.C. operations and that there will be no impact on day-to-day operations. “Collective agreements covering HEU members remain in place,” says the union’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “And we will monitor the situation carefully to make sure members’ jobs and seniors’ services are protected through the transition.” If members are aware of any changes in the workplace as a result of the sale – or have other questions, they should contact their union executive and servicing representative.

YOUR UNION HEU welcomes new members After a successful organizing drive, the health care team at Eden Care Centre in Chilliwack voted to rejoin the union on February 22. They had previously been contracted out, and then experienced two contract flips. HEU will now represent 121 new members in a wall-to-wall certification, which includes frontline care and support staff at the complex care facility. “This is another example of the precarious life for members and residents in the world of private

Colouring contest raises awareness Each year on April 28, HEU recognizes National Day of Mourning to honour workers injured or killed on the job and those who have died from work-related incidents or occupational disease. According to WorkSafeBC’s October 2016 stats, there were 145,803 workers injured on the job; 2,970 occupational disease claims, and 122 workers who died because of a workplace incident

in 2015. And health care still has the highest injury rate among all occupations. That’s why HEU continues to raise awareness and hold employers accountable for creating safer workplaces. For its part, the union’s People with disAbilities Standing Committee holds an annual children’s colouring contest as part of its Blue Poppy Campaign to engage HEU members and their families about health and safety. Details are available at <heu. org>. Submissions must be received at HEU’s Provincial Office by Friday, May 26 at 5:00 p.m.

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 3


IT’S THE LAW

Workers’ right to bargain TEN YEARS AGO, on June 8, 2007, HEU members scored a huge victory at the Supreme Court of Canada. On that day, the highest court in the land issued a landmark decision proclaiming, for the first time in Canadian history, that collective bargaining is a “constitutional right” protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That decision followed a five-year legal battle, led by HEU, against the B.C. Liberal government’s attack on the rights of unionized health care workers when it passed Bill 29, the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, in 2002. Bill 29 ripped up health care workers’ collective agreements and cleared the way for privatizing support services in health care. In the process, more than 8,000 workers, most of them women, were fired. In rendering their decision, the Justices recognized collective bargaining “as the most significant collective activity through which freedom of association is expressed in the labour context.” They concluded that “the right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work.” Known as the Health Services decision, it has been the cornerstone of a number of major victories on labour rights since then. In November 2016, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation won a significant victory when the Supreme Court ruled that the B.C. government had violated the constitutional right of teachers to negotiate class size and composition, and a 2015 Supreme Court win by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour established the right to strike as a charter-protected right.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Paying too much for meds and fees? New online tool compares pharmacy charges DID YOU KNOW Canadians spent about $29.3 billion on prescription drugs in 2013, including $7 billion in out-of-pocket expenses? And that amount keeps growing. The skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs and pharmacy dispensing fees are putting many employer-paid benefit plans at risk. That’s why Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) has developed a free, user-friendly online tool to help people find the most economical rates for filling prescriptions in their communities – and those rates can vary significantly among retailers. For example: Rexall has a 48 per cent “mark up” on its pharmaceuticals compared to only one per cent at Costco. The average “mark up” in British Columbia is 17 per cent. PBC has partnered with a number of pharmacy chains to ensure the lowest drug prices and fees in an effort to sustain the coverage workers, families and seniors currently receive. As part of its online resource <pharmacycompass.ca> PBC has created a Preferred Pharmacy Network (PPN), a list of retailers who guarantee low-cost drugs and dispensing fees to save money for everyone.

PPN members – including London Drugs, Save on Foods, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Sobeys Pharmacy, Costco, and others – also provide advice and assistance in applying for specialty or high-cost drug coverage, and offer 100-day prescription refills with an option to receive refill reminders.

Pacific Blue Cross has partnered with a number of pharmacy chains to ensure the lowest drug prices and fees in an effort to sustain the coverage workers, families and seniors currently receive. It’s easy to take advantage of this costsaving initiative. You can simply explore the Pharmacy Compass online, or visit a PPN retailer with your PBC ID card to fill your prescription. “Pacific Blue Cross believes that all British Columbians deserve to have access to affordable health care, especially when it comes to prescription drugs,” says the insurance provider. “Smart shopping can save consumers and our health care system billions of dollars.” BRENDA WHITEHALL

YOUR UNION Congratulations to HEU Bursary recipients Each academic year, HEU awards a number of bursaries. The bursaries are sponsored by union locals and HEU’s Provincial Executive (P.E.). They are available for members, their children, stepchildren and legal guardians, and spouses, including common-law and samesex partners, who need financial assistance and demonstrate satisfactory academic standing. The bursaries range from $350 to $1,000. They can support courses at any post-secondary educational 4 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017

institution, and are administered by a bursary committee under the P.E.’s direction. Here are the 2016-2017 recipients and their sponsoring locals: $350 bursaries Tracie Lynn Stevens (UBC), Dong Ho Lee (Royal Columbian – Bill Black), Carlee Marshall (Victoria General), Audra Van Damme (Royal Columbian – John Darby). $500 bursaries Brennan Atamanchuk (P.E. – Alex Paterson Memorial), Pierangelo Lombos (Vancouver General), Gregory Sorensen (Royal Jubilee), Justin Pyett (St. Paul’s – Robert Standell), Joel

Calica (PHSA Amalgamated – Cathy Peters Memorial), Shawn Mrazek (Vancouver General), David Trandang (P.E.), Nathan Naidu (Richmond), Kayla Knapp (Burnaby), Tamara Albers (P.E. – Ginger Goodwin), Sarah Westenhaver (Maple Ridge – Tara Hansen Memorial), Shayla Mailhot (Prince George), Shelby Nerbas (Shaughnessy-George Derby), Kyra Laureano (People with disAbilities committee – Cathy Peters Memorial). $1,000 bursaries Alyssa Andress (P.E.), Alexandra Jaworska (P.E.), Kaitlyn John (P.E.), Maggie King (P.E.), Lydia

Legere (P.E.), Tianna Lofeudo (P.E.), Kaitlin MacDonald (P.E.), Hyeong-bin (Tom) Park (P.E.), Gurkiran Parmar (P.E.), Jeralyn Sayle (P.E.), Danielle SwansonKoutnik (P.E.), Camilla Wielunski (P.E.), Emily Hill (P.E.), Shelby Jensen (P.E.), Baileigh Wikeruk (P.E.), Karin Zylstra (P.E.), Brett Hunter (P.E.), Ashley Carlos (P.E.), Artashina Singh (P.E.), Jax Bailey (P.E.), Simrin Brar (Surrey – Iris Andrews Memorial), Lindsay Barrington (P.E. – Ray McCready Memorial), Joseph Long, (Surrey and P.E. – Edward James Ashmore Memorial).


Pharmacy markup on prescriptions can range from one per cent to 48 per cent depending on where you buy them. pharmacycompass.ca

Liberal plan to raid funds intended for injured workers a betrayal

A PRE-ELECTION promise by the B.C. Liberal government to divert tens of millions of dollars in funds intended for injured workers into employers’ pockets has drawn fire from the labour community. “It’s an outrageous move that comes at a time when more needs to be done to keep workers safe on the job and fairly compensate those who are killed or injured,” says B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger. The plan for WorkSafeBC funds was announced in late March and would take effect after the May 9 provincial election. HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside says the B.C. Liberal government is turning its back on injured workers with its plan to force WorkSafeBC to return “surplus” funds to employers. “In the health care sector, and especially in residential care

homes, injury rates from strains and from violence are unacceptably high and overwhelmingly impact women,” says Whiteside.

The plan for WorkSafeBC funds was announced in late March and would take effect after the May 9 provincial election. “There really is no surplus to return – those funds are needed by WorkSafeBC to boost health and safety education, expand violence prevention training, and more stringently enforce health and safety regulations. “And it appears that the BC Liberals are gifting surpluses to employers with no strings attached – no requirement that those funds be used to make workplaces safer,” says Whiteside.

“Meanwhile, care home staff are being injured at a rate four times the provincial average.” Lanzinger says the provHealth care ince’s health and safety proworkers have tections are weak and not the highest always rigorously enforced. rate of injuries And under current rules, on the job. an injured worker pays a 10 per cent penalty on their take home pay. The health sector injury VIOLENCE rate is one and a half times higher than all B.C. workUNDERSTAFFING places combined (measured in accepted claims for every EXCESSIVE WORKLOADS 100 person years worked). In the province’s longAPRIL DAYfor decade NATIONAL and women accounted term care facilities, the rate OFofMOURNING 8028 per cent these claims. Fortyis more than four times higher. KILLED, INJURED centWORKERS of those claims were According to a 2015 Work-SafeBC one per FOR OR DISABLED ON THE JOB report, 61 per cent of injury claims made by care aides – more than related to violence came out of any other group in the health care health care over the previous sector.

15 YEARS OF UNDERFUNDING AND PRIVATIZATION

Report documents impact on seniors’ care More than 15 years of underfunding, privatization and fragmentation of seniors’ care have left many seniors and their families struggling to access health services, says a new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report. Privatization and Declining Access to BC Seniors’ Care: An Urgent Call for Policy Change uses data from the B.C. Ministry of Health to track the access to home and residential care. Authored by CCPA research associate Andy Longhurst, the study is the most recent product of a 17-year collaboration between CCPA and HEU’s research department that has also produced three other reports on the topic.

Alarmingly, the situation facing B.C. seniors has deteriorated over that period – with less access to publicly funded home support, residential care and assisted living compared to 2001. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of residential care and assisted living spaces – relative to the population 75 years and older – declined by 20 per cent. And there was a reduction in access in every health authority. B.C.’s seniors have less access to publicly funded home support today than in 2001. There was a 30 per cent decline between 2001 and 2016 in home support clients as a proportion of the 75-year-plus age group.

The report also documents the unrelenting privatization of publicly subsidized residential care over the last decade and a half, and the risks that accompany this trend. Since 2001, beds operated by for-profit companies increased by 42 per cent while the number operated by health authorities and non-profit groups declined by 11 per cent. The negative impact of for-profit delivery on care quality is well documented in the academic research – and HEU members are very familiar with the disruption in the continuity of care that results from downward pressure on wages and repeated contracting out.

Education department rolls out 2017 program HEU’s education department has a full slate of events, workshops and courses scheduled this year, including the union’s equity conference at the end of May and a special fall school in October. Education director Juli Rees says “our top goal is promoting union activism by creating a supportive learning environment for all participants.” So far, more than 220 HEU activists have taken shop steward courses, levels one and two, and several more participated in table officers training.

KELOWNA | Participants in HEU’s shop steward training course kick it up at the end of the day. Over the next few months, members will be able to apply for occupational health and safety workshops, both introductory and

the more advanced knowing and enforcing workers’ rights. Courses are held in all regions of the province. Information and

application forms are available from HEU local executives, union bulletin boards, or can be downloaded from the HEU website. Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 5


WORKING FOR YOU

Meet HEU receptionists Linda Shaw and Lisa Mayo. As key liaisons between the union, its members and the public, they provide a critical role in keeping HEU functioning smoothly. They operate the union’s busy switchboard at the Provincial Office; greet and direct visitors; send and receive mail, courier packages and special deliveries; as well as manage hundreds of phone calls, emails and faxes. They also reserve conference and meeting space, and book HEU’s conference line when needed.

Brenda Whitehall PHOTO

AT THE FRONT DESK

Donisa Bernardo | Financial Secretary

VIEWPOINT

Don’t get me started on pay equity. The BC Liberals took a wrecking ball to it – passing several bills that set women’s equality back by decades.

I DON’T KNOW about you, but I’ve had enough of attacks on public and social services over the past decade and a half under the BC Liberals. For nearly 16 years, the Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark governments have shown a complete disregard for working families in this province. At its core is their continued privatization agenda that rewards corporations – not hard-working British Columbians. The damage is profound. The BC Liberals dismantled safeguards like legal aid and the tenants’ rights branch, cut funding to children’s and women’s programs, slashed health care and education budgets, shredded collective agreements, and rolled back public sector wages. And don’t get me started on pay equity. The BC Liberals took a wrecking ball to it – passing several bills that set women’s equality back by decades. Wages and programs cut

They ditched the Ministry for Women’s Equality; cut funding to critical services like women’s shelters, addiction and recovery centres, violence prevention programs, and supports for women and children experiencing domestic abuse. They demolished subsidy initiatives making child care unaffordable; created a two-tier minimum wage system reducing some workers’ wages to $6/hour; privatized thousands of jobs primarily held by women; and reduced welfare and income supports leaving many women, especially single mothers, in financial peril. And the BC Liberals have steadfastly refused to create a povertyreduction plan, despite one in five children going to school hungry. We still have the highest child poverty rate in Canada – at a staggering 19.8 per cent – or 163,260 children. Between 2007 and 2014, Metro Vancouver family expenses grew by 18 per cent and child care rates rose by 35 per cent. The cost of living keeps rising, but incomes are not keeping pace. That’s why we need to keep fighting for a $10 a day child care program, a living wage, proper staffing levels in residential care, and an end to contract-flipping and privatization. This summer, HEU will lose about 130 hospital laundry workers, mostly women, due to the Interior Health Authority’s contracting-out scheme. When does it stop? On May 9, we have decisions to make. Do we want a government whose policies clearly do not respect or value ours – one that has turned its back on women, children, seniors and workers? Or do we want a government who protects working people, social programs, public health care and education? The choice is simple.

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Victor Elkins | President

PRESIDENT’S DESK For too many youth in government care, the consequences of the Christy Clark government’s failure to support vulnerable kids is unconscionable.

IT WAS HARD to control my emotions.

For nearly 30 minutes, I listened to Stephanie Cadieux, the B.C. Liberal’s minister of children and family development, repeatedly duck questions about the death of yet another young person who had been in government care. This Aboriginal teenager had died cold and alone in a tent in Surrey because she did not have the support she needed. I was at the B.C. legislature that day, as part of a delegation of HEU members and citizens who were opposing Victoria’s plans to privatize seniors’ care on the Sunshine Coast.

Government neglect

But when question period got underway, my attention shifted to another kind of neglect – the neglect by this provincial government of children and youth in their care. Over the past 16 years, I have been a foster parent to over 40 boys and girls. And every day, I see the considerable challenges they face to overcome their troubled pasts and move forward through a system that is underfunded and understaffed. For too many youth in government care – over 60 per cent are Aboriginal – the consequences of the Christy Clark government’s failure to support vulnerable kids is unconscionable. And for some, it’s led to a tragic end of their young lives. Paige Gauchier. Nick Lang. Isabella Wiens. Carly Fraser. Alex Gervais. These young people all died while in government care. Yet, every time the minister was asked to explain what changes her government would make to prevent another death, the answer was the same: the government will do better. But better never happens.

The tragic result of underfunding

Since 2001, the BC Liberals cut tens of millions of dollars from frontline support to children and youth in care. And though they recently announced they would restore some of that funding in their latest budget, that won’t help the young woman from Surrey or all the others who were abandoned by this government. Former child and youth representative Mary Ellen Terpel-Lafond laid it out in the final report she released last year – Victoria needs to put children in care at the centre of their work and government needs to be more accountable. But for this government, it’s too little, too late. And none of this needed to happen. That’s why we need to hold Christy Clark and her party to account on May 9. Let’s send them a message they can’t forget.


We will scrap the rest of Bill 29 and take action to restore successorship rights in health care. JOHN HORGAN

ON THE ISSUES Poverty “The most damning evidence that Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have mismanaged our economy is growing inequality in our communities. We need a poverty action plan that includes affordable child care, housing solutions, and a $15 an hour minimum wage.”

Child care “A $10 a day child care plan for B.C. makes perfect sense. It’s good for kids, it’s good for families and it’s good for our economy.”

Education

ON THE ROAD | Travelling the province, John Horgan has met with scores of British Columbians who have shared their hopes for a better future for themselves and their families.

Meet the NDP’s John Horgan His approach to politics is down-to-earth and genuine JOHN HORGAN IS NO STRANGER to many HEU members. He’s delivered powerful speeches at two HEU conventions with his signature style – landing jokes and bringing members to their feet with his pledge to create a better B.C. And he may hold the record for most selfies taken with members. At the 2016 convention, he spent two hours talking with members one-onone and hearing their stories. “I have a deep respect for the work HEU members do across the health care system,” says Horgan. “And I’ve gained a deep understanding of the challenges they face on the job.” His approach to politics is down-to-earth and genuine. Raised by a single mother – his father died when he was a baby – he and his three siblings grew up in a family struggling to make ends meet. Having taken on many jobs from driving delivery trucks to working in a pulp mill, Horgan is used to hard work. He put himself through university where, as luck would have it, on the second day of classes he met his future wife Ellie. Together they made a family and built a life around their two sons Nate and Evan. In fact in 2005, it was one of Nate’s friends who heard Horgan yelling at the TV about something the BC Liberals had done. He put him on the spot and asked him what he was going to do about it? Horgan rose to the challenge. That year, he won the race to become MLA for the riding of Malahat-Juan de Fuca. And in 2014, he became the leader of the BC New Democratic Party. As leader of the opposition, he has a reputation for fighting hard on issues that matter to people – housing affordability, the opioid crisis, child care, school cuts and closures, seniors’ care, strong public services, and more.

Horgan is particularly passionate about protecting health care. “We need to fix public health care in B.C. and I want HEU members to know that we’re in this together. I stand with all HEU members in our fight for strong public health care, social justice and workers’ rights.” And he is unequivocal about the BC Liberals’ Bill 29, which facilitated widespread contracting out and contract-flipping in health care. “Under my leadership, an NDP government will scrap the rest of Bill 29 and restore successor rights for health care workers,” he says.

“Governing is about choices and I want to restore people’s faith in the ability of government to make life better.” Horgan wants a better life for working people and families. It isn’t fair that people earning minimum wage have to struggle to keep their heads above water, he says. “B.C. has one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada. It keeps low-wage earners in poverty and it pushes down wages for everyone,” says Horgan. “In my first term, we’re going to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.” Horgan says he wants to lead a government that puts the interests of all British Columbians on the table and puts people back at the centre of politics. “Governing is about choices and I want to restore people’s faith in the ability of government to make life better. “I want to lead a government that rejects inequality and fights for equity, because I believe government needs to make life better for people – not harder.”

“Christy Clark and the BC Liberals were forced by the courts to start reversing the damage they’ve done to B.C. schools. They closed 250 schools and robbed an entire generation of the educational resources that they’re now being forced to restore. “We will work with teachers and school boards – not fight them – to make sure our kids have every opportunity to succeed.”

Affordability “We will build an economy based on good jobs that last – not part-time, temporary employment. We will invest in transportation, high tech and creative industries and in public services. And we’ll add value and create jobs in local communities, instead of exporting our raw resources.”

Health care “The BC Liberals refused to make key investments to keep up with our growing and aging population. Now, we’re living with crowded emergency rooms, long waits for MRIs and other tests, and a lack of access to primary care. “An NDP government will focus resources on the needs of patients and those who care for them. We can’t do that by selling off health care services to private contractors, as the BC Liberals have done.”

Seniors’ care “Our elderly deserve dignified care. An NDP government will enforce staffing standards and stop the harmful practice of firing and rehiring entire staff teams because of repeated contracting out.”

Bill 29 “I’ve been very clear that a John Horgan government will scrap the rest of the BC Liberal’s Bill 29 and take action to restore successorship rights for workers in health care.”

The environment “I’ve released a climate action plan that will cut carbon pollution, create good jobs, and double the number of British Columbians receiving rebate cheques to offset a higher federal carbon tax.”

SARA ROZELL

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 7


The message that HEU’s 46,000 members can make

From election training workshops to volunteering on labour canvasses in key swing seats, members are rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.”

HEU members are getting involved in B.C.’s May 9 election like never before. And the timing couldn’t be better. “I want to be there to change the government,” says Troy Duperreault, an HEU long-term care member in Kamloops. “And even though I’m new to politics, I am getting involved as a campaign volunteer in my constituency of KamloopsNorth Thompson to support a great candidate, HEU 1st vicepresident Barb Nederpel.” For HEU president Victor Elkins, seeing the him questions on a range of issues. Members level of activity among members, as British wanted to hear the NDP’s solutions for creatColumbians get ready to head to the polls, is ing affordable housing, $10/day child care, heartening. reducing spiking hydro rates, improving pub“When members realize the BC Liberals lic education, and tackling the many chalonly won a majority of seats in lenges they face each Dozens of members have the last election with less than day under the BC 5,800 votes spread over nine volunteered to act as Liberals’ watch. MLA seats, they know they can pledge captains, and are HEU member Maria make a difference,” says Elkins. Fe Infante always And the message, he says, speaking to others about gets involved at electhat HEU members can make the importance of voting. tion time. She’ll be a difference on Election Day is part of the Vancouver resonating across the province. Fraserview NDP team, speaking to voters on “From election training workshops to vol- behalf of former two-term Vancouver city unteering on labour canvasses in key swing councillor George Chow. seats, members are rolling up their sleeves “Even though volunteering on an election and getting involved,” says Elkins. can be demanding on your free time, I try to In early April, thousands of members also make myself busy so that I can share my enertook part in a provincial telephone town hall gy, my passion and work ethic with others,” with BC NDP Leader John Horgan to ask says Fe Infante. “Campaigns let me do what

8 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017


a difference on May 9 is resonating across the province.

Joshua Berson PHOTOS

I like to do most – and that is to help others. “As for my faithful friends and co-workers who say they’ll volunteer when I ask for help, I just try to make sure they’re going to have a meaningful experience – one that will impact their lives. By talking to voters, they find they really enjoy it, plus they learn new skills and a lot about those they meet. They find out that life is really interesting.” One of the main ways for members to participate in the election is through HEU’s Vote Health Care pledge campaign. Locals are hosting vote pledge events and inviting NDP candidates to speak to members at local meetings.

At the same time, dozens of members have volunteered to act as pledge captains, and are speaking to others about the upcoming election and the importance of voting. “In the 2015 federal election, we worked hard to engage members around voting, and it paid off,” says HEU financial secretary Donisa Bernardo. “Not only did we see Stephen Harper’s Conservatives cut down to third place in seats in B.C., but in two hotly contested seats, it was the turnout of HEU members that made a huge difference. They helped elect two more NDP MPs – Burnaby South’s Kennedy Stewart and Kootenay Columbia’s

HEU MEMBERS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL Natalie Fletcher is the BC Management Program NDP candidate for Prince and vice-president of George-Valemount. the North Central Labour She’s a long-time HEU Council. member and a represenNatalie is passionate tative on the Women’s about human rights and Standing Committee. In has been a strong advoaddition to her union activcate in her workplace and ism, Natalie has an extencommunity, as well as supsive history of fighting for Natalie Fletcher porting Prince George’s workers’ rights in her comLGBTQ+ community. munity. As a proud northerner, Natalie A former chair of the Prince understands the importance of repGeorge local, Natalie currently resenting the interests of northern serves as chief shop steward. British Columbians to Victoria, not She’s also a representative on the the other way around. Northern Health’s Disability

Wayne Stetski – to Ottawa’s parliament. “By the time members receive this issue of the Guardian, we expect even more activists will have pledged their vote for health care in this provincial election than they did in the 2015 federal election,” says Bernardo. Elkins says that when one considers HEU has more than 46,000 members across the province, the union can be a powerful force for change on May 9. “I encourage every HEU member to get out and cast their ballot, and make it count for health care and all the public services British Columbians rely on. So many are depending on us.” NEIL MONCKTON

HEU’s 1st vice-president Barb She’s also served on CUPE and Nederpel is running in the riding of the B.C. Federation of Labour’s Kamloops-North Thompson. political action committees. An HEU member since 2006, In her HEU role, Barb has fought Barb’s active within the Kamloops/ back against privatization, cuts to Thompson local, where she’s held public health services and seniors’ the positions of chairperson and care. chief shop steward. Spending many years Barb was elected to the as a single mom, Barb union’s Provincial Executive understands the ecoin 2012 as regional vicenomic pressures that president, and later as 2nd face working families. vice-president. That’s why she’s comCurrently, she’s presimitted to a $10/day dent of the Kamloops and child care program and District Labour Council, building a sustainable giving a strong voice to economy with decent, Barb Nederpel labour in her community. family-supporting jobs.

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 9


LABOUR The amount of fossil fuel removed from Canadian soil that ends up in the atmosphere as harmful carbon dioxide has risen dramatically, almost exclusively because of the country’s growing fossil fuel exports. That’s the finding of a recent study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Parkland Institute. Extracted carbon from Canada (fossil fuels extracted and used domestically or exported and combusted elsewhere) increased 26 per cent from 2000 to 2014. In 2015, Canada’s extracted carbon equaled almost 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide. A major loophole in the Paris Agreement, which especially benefits Canada, means fossil fuels exported to other countries are not counted in Canada’s emissions inventory — only those extracted and burned inside the country’s borders. Only half of the fossil fuels extracted by Canada is counted in its greenhouse gas inventory. Read the full study at <parklandinstitute.ca>.

CONTRACTED SUPPORT SERVICE WORKERS

Uniting for a fair contract WITH BARGAINING ramping up for 4,000 housekeepers and dietary staff working in contracted support services, HEU members in that sector are taking action. They are doing whatever it takes to build solidarity within their locals, and reach out to other members of the union and the broader public. “Solidarity is what’s needed if we are going to succeed in these negotiations,” says HEU secretary business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “And we know when members stand together and take action, they get results.” This past March, HEU bargainers representing housekeepers at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital were dealing with an employer who showed no interest in bargaining and broke off talks indefinitely. In response, members planned a rally at the hospital’s entrance, promoting the event with posters and stickers. The next day, the employer called HEU to set new dates for talks. The rally was cancelled.

DAY OF ACTION

May 1

Wear orange to support contracted support service workers In Nanaimo, when another employer tried to stop HEU housekeepers from wearing the bright, orange United for Fairness

Neil Monckton PHOTO

CANADA’S GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ON THE RISE

News from here and around the world

GOING PUBLIC | HEU took the concerns of contracted support service workers public in a targeted bus shelter campaign near key Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island hospitals.

shoelaces to promote bargaining, members banded together and convinced management to reverse its decision. Members are still sporting their HEU laces. “It’s these kinds of actions – big or small – that make a difference,” says Whiteside. Members in the sector are seeking a stable and secure future where they will not lose their jobs when a health authority changes its contractors. They are also seeking a fair wage increase and improved working conditions. Bargaining in the sector began last May for a first agreement for 800-plus workers who were part of a recent contract flip in Vancouver Coastal. Since then, talks are now

underway at another dozen-plus tables, involving four multinational corporations across nearly 40 sites in four health authorities. “Every HEU member needs to stand together in support of those who work in contracted support services,” says Whiteside. “We can’t let the health authorities and their corporate partners continue to profit at the expense of any member of this union. “That’s why I hope you will join me on May 1 and wear orange to support the thousands of HEU contracted support service members who continue to be a vital part of the health care team.” NEIL MONCKTON

VOICES

Quality, affordable child care is worth voting for FOR TOO MANY young families in B.C., quality, affordable child care is out of reach. Fees are too high, waitlists too long and the wages of early childhood educators are too low. And for parents who work early mornings, evenings or weekend shifts, finding child care can be a huge challenge. That’s why a $10aDay Child Care Plan has the support of more than two million British Columbians; 46 municipalities, 30 school boards, and many more. Making child care available and affordable at no more than $10 a day is not a new idea. But what we need is a government that will step up and put the $10aDay plan in place. With this plan we can meet the needs of families with children under age three within one government term. By the second term, we can make quality

More than two million British Columbians support the $10aDay Child Care Plan.

$10aDay child care available for all children under age six. Government revenues generated from $10aDay child care will offset the costs, and we’ll add $5.8 billion and 69,000 jobs to B.C.’s economy. With new investments from the province and Ottawa, locally elected school boards will provide early care and learning programs with the operating funds they need to deliver quality programs in the community. Early childhood educators will receive the respect and remuneration they deserve. There is no reason not to invest in child care, especially when economists show the $10aDay plan will pay for itself as more parents are able to work and more single parents can move off welfare. On May 9, vote for child care. Learn more at < www.10aday.ca >. SHARON GREGSON Provincial Spokesperson, $10aDay Child Care Plan

10 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017


Mobilus in Mobili / Joe Piette / Ted Eytan All Creative Commons PHOTOS CC BY 2.0

Obamacare in the balance Trump attack opens door to debate on universal health care With U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican legislators’ failure to pull enough votes together to repeal and replace “Obamacare”, health care access remains in place – at least for now – for the millions of Americans who stood to lose it. The threat to eliminate Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) sparked widespread resistance from labour unions, seniors’ organizations, the medical community and scores of grassroots groups. Now, the public debate generated over the ACA appears to have opened a door for progressive Americans to push for health reform that would go beyond Obama’s approach, which suffered from rising insurance premiums and increasing deductibles.

With the Republicans’ plans derailed, at least temporarily, Democratic Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has announced he will introduce a bill to bring universal health care to the United States. “We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a ‘Medicare for All’ single-payer program,” Sanders told the U.S. network MSNBC. Sanders’ proposal seeks to address the significant gap in coverage under the ACA. Although more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained access through Obamacare, millions more remain without coverage. And that leaves the United States

as the only industrial country in the world without universal health care coverage – despite the fact that the U.S. spends more of its GDP on health care than other countries.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies.” — Bernie Sanders “Ideally, where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right,” Sanders told CNN. For Americans, health care has been a long-standing and hugely divisive issue. What remains to be seen is how the next chapter will unfold.

As Princeton University professor and author Paul Starr argues in American Prospect magazine, the Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace Obamacare presents a significant political opportunity for liberal and progressive Democrats. “Now that Republicans have shown their true hand on health care, they are creating new possibilities for long-term progressive organizing and policy alternatives,” Starr wrote. The Trump presidency has threatened the modest, but important, gains Americans have made towards universal health coverage. It’s ironic that the unrelenting attack on Obamacare may have galvanized the opposition and breathed life into an important, long-overdue debate about creating a universal, single-payer health care system that would provide all Americans with the medical coverage they need. PATTY GIBSON

NEWSBITES

Jen Castro / Creative Commons PHOTO CC BY 2.0

Next phase of National Inquiry underway

VANCOUVER | Women’s memorial march honours the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Last fall, the federal government officially launched the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The independent review began in December 2015 during nationwide, pre-inquiry meetings and interviews with survivors, victims’ families and friends, Indigenous communities, organizations, and other stakeholders. That data was compiled to determine a framework for the two-year, $40 million initiative.

Now, five commissioners have been selected to continue the work, and will hold a series of hearings between May and the fall. Families are invited to give testimonials during this phase of the inquiry, and do not need to apply for standing in the proceedings. However, organizations and groups need to apply. Recently, families have expressed concerns about the inquiry’s timelines and are calling for better communication to ensure they are part of the process. Statistics show that more than 1,200 Indigenous women and girls Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 11


We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through. ROSEMARY BROWN Politician, activist

ETHNIC DIVERSITY STANDING COMMITTEE

Domnic Santiago / Creative Commons PHOTO CC BY 2.0

Members raise funds for refugees

A NEW COUNTRY | Media capture the arrival of a Syrian refugee family coming to Canada at Toronto Pearson Airport in December 2015.

FOR MONTHS, the refugee crisis in war-ravaged Syria has dominated news headlines. In 2016, the United Nations announced humanitarian aid was urgently needed for about 13.5 million Syrians. Canada was among the first countries to answer the call. That’s why HEU’s Ethnic Diversity Standing Committee decided to help a refugee family resettle in the Lower Mainland. Instead of taking on the huge financial and time commitment of sponsorship, the committee chose to assist an organization that sponsors refugees. So HEU member Maria Rodriguez (Maple Ridge) contacted her church, which had already sponsored two Syrian families. “I’m a refugee as well, so I’m very pleased that we are helping,” says Rodriguez. “It was not easy for my family when we came here from Central America. Our committee decided that as a social justice union, we have to do this. It’s about human rights.”

“It’s a good feeling for the families to know someone is helping them,” says Edna Rivera (UBC). “We’re supporting a good cause and we’re also raising awareness about refugees.” So far, the committee has raised about $1,400 through fundraising projects like selling chocolate bars. They also secured a Gambling Event Licence for a 50/50 draw at HEU’s 2016 convention. The Syrian family they’re assisting includes two daughters and one son, who fled their home in April 2013 after their community in Aleppo was bombed. The family spent two years in extreme danger and poverty. They relocated frequently, until February 2016 when their sponsorship was approved and they resettled in Port Coquitlam. Both parents are now working and their young adult children are in school. Cora Mojica (Seven Shining Stars) says, “We totally understand the hardships of coming to a new country. The 50/50 draw gave us a chance to tell our HEU sisters and brothers about why we’re supporting a refugee family, and we had a positive response.”

“It’s really difficult coming to a new country when there’s a language barrier and you have no knowledge of the place.” Committee members Baljit Singh, Tommy Liu, Edna Rivera, Maria Rodriguez and Cora Mojica. Not shown: Kuljit (Kelly) Aujila and Terressa Jamerson

Like Rodriguez, some committee members are also refugees, who understand the challenges of coming to an unfamiliar country, with a different culture and language, and the feelings of fear and isolation.

“We’re proud that we can help,” says Baljit Singh (Vernon). “It’s really difficult coming to a new country when there’s a language barrier and you have no knowledge of the place.” Besides monetary aid, people can contact refugee organizations to see how they can help: such as resume-writing, teaching English, and sharing information on available community resources. BRENDA WHITEHALL

NEWSBITES died or disappeared between 1980 and 2014. Lobbyists believe the number is significantly higher and are calling for the creation of a national database. The inquiry will look into systemic causes of all forms of violence, including sexual violence, against Indigenous women, girls and [LGBTQ2S+] throughout Canada. The commissioners will release an interim report by the end of the year, with a final report due in December 2018. For more information, visit <mmiwg-ffada.ca>. 12 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017

Ambulance paramedics launch campaign Imagine a world with more paramedics. That’s the message of a hard-hitting, provincial campaign the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of B.C. (CUPE 873) have launched to raise public awareness about the challenges they face on the job – and issue a call for more government support and resources. B.C. paramedics are the frontline medical professionals who respond to patients during a medical crisis for early assess-

ment, critical intervention, treatment, monitoring, transport and continuum of care to hospital emergency rooms. The union says call volumes have increased over the past 15 years, but government has not kept up with the corresponding demand for more resources and funding for ambulance services. Although the provincial government is adding $91.4 million in additional funding to the service over the next three years, CUPE 873 says it’s not enough. The national average wait time goal is eight minutes and 59 seconds,

but in B.C. that goal is only being met 30 per cent of the time. People can support the initiative at <paramedicsin859.com>.


Without kidney dialysis services available in Bella Bella, Clark Wilson took the training needed to provide his father’s life-saving treatments at home.

Rising to the challenge

Thousands rally to save Britain’s health service With Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) suffering from underfunding and facing potential privatization, an estimated 250,000 people took to the streets in London on March 4 to protect public health care. Media reported that among those attending were patients who would not be alive without the NHS. Many stood alongside the medical personnel who saved them.

One of the largest health care rallies in the history of the UK, people arrived from all corners of Britain with banners, balloons and placards calling on the government to reverse the £20 billion “savings” targeted for 2020. NHS workers represented by Unison, the UK’s largest public sector union, have had their wages frozen and capped since 2010. “More than £4.3 billion has been cut from NHS staff salaries between 2010 and 2016 as a result of the government’s pay cap,” says Unison.

SHARON NEUFELD

Steve Eason / Creative Commons PHOTO CC BY 2.0

Earlier this year, HEU members at GF Strong launched their first annual purse and clothing drive to benefit women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In just a few short weeks, the local collected 30 boxes of items – including clothing, toiletries, purses, shoes, coats, hygiene products and cosmetics. Local chair Tina Clemente says members were inspired by stories they heard at HEU’s 2016 convention about the needs of women in Canada’s most impoverished neighbourhood. “We decided to start a purse and clothing drive with our own members, as well as reaching out to the other health care workers at our facility,” says Clemente, who works as a unit clerk. They delivered the boxes to the WISH Drop-in Centre Society that provides services and programs geared toward securing mainstream jobs for street sex trade workers. Their mandate includes helping women gain work experience and skills, build confidence, and break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Clemente says the local plans to make this an annual fundraising drive. “We are issuing a friendly challenge to all HEU locals to start similar projects to benefit an organization in their community.”

AFTER SHIFT

GF STRONG MAKES A WISH

HEU member Clark Wilson is a cook by trade and a new activist. He’s also a young man whose loyalty and love for his family put him on a path he didn’t foresee. When Clark’s fisherman dad Ken became ill with kidney disease in 2008, and was medevaced from Bella Bella to Vancouver, an unexpected journey opened up for him. After working in various jobs outside of Bella Bella, he returned home in 2010 to accompany his father on regular trips to St. Paul’s Hospital. By May 2014, they were forced to move to Vancouver for the ongoing dialysis treatments that weren’t available in Bella Bella. Several months into treatment, Clark had an important decision to make. His dad wanted dialysis at home. So Clark rose to the challenge and trained for the procedure. “With my first needling, you could see how happy my dad was,” says Clark. “It was the first step to going home. For me, the biggest challenge was learning about equipment and procedures and how to handle different situations.” Once home, Clark began working at Bella Bella’s R.W. Large Memorial Hospital as a casual cook. “Doing dad’s dialysis, was a life-changing experience,” he says. “I learned that when “I learned that when someone tells you there’s no way to get through someone tells you there’s something, you simply need to charge your way through it with the help and guidance of no way to get through something, you simply others.” His dad recently received a kidney transplant. need to charge your way “It’s been very humbling,” says Clark. “We’ve through it with the help had a lot of support, both financial and emotional. Our community always pulls together and guidance of others.” for each other.” Clark has extended the energy he has for his own family and community to his union. He is chair of his local and a shop steward. “I put my life on hold to help my dad,” says Clark. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful. It’s made me a stronger person.” A documentary based on Clark’s story – Glynis Whiting’s Blood Tether – will be released in October for B.C. Kidney Days.

At the rally Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the crowd to defend the NHS with all their might. “Defending the NHS is defending a basic human value, a basic human right.” Four days following the rally, on

March 8, government announced the budget would contain some additional funding for health care, including a one per cent pay raise for health care staff. But critics say the funds are not enough to properly fund health services.

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 13


The right to vote Voting in an election is a democratic right that citizens in most countries have fought hard to achieve. With B.C.’s provincial election on the horizon, Coffee Break looks at voting around the world. Teens as young as 16 or 17 are eligible to vote in some countries – including Brazil, Austria, Scotland, Nicaragua, North Korea, Cuba, Germany, Argentina and Indonesia. Women in Saudi Arabia finally gained the right to vote – and run for office – in 2015. About 1,000 Saudi Arabian women ran in the municipal elections that year – with 20 winning local council seats. Voting is mandatory in 22 countries – including Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, Belgium, Greece, Mexico and Australia.

FACEBOOK FEEDBACK

COFFEE BREAK JOIN THE CONVERSATION | HEU members and their allies are actively using Facebook and other social media platforms to talk about how to make their workplaces safer, protect good jobs and provide better care. Here is a sample.

2017 B.C. Budget “These are just election promises…” • David Froesev •

“The same story. Looks like the B.C. government doesn’t care much.” • Ester Ramirez •

“She took away the disability bus pass last year and now is giving it back as an incentive to vote for her!!” • Christine Nydahl •

Privatization in hospitals “Hospitals do not have just doctors and nurses – there are kitchen staff, laundry staff and housekeeping staff – but unfortunately, they have been privatized. Soon more departments will be facing the same thing.” • Ritz Franz •

Seniors’ care funding announcement “I’ll take anything right now, it’s so bad. But it never should’ve gotten this bad to begin with, and our union and members never should’ve had to fight as hard as they did/do to get more staff.” • Melissa Darnell Penney •

“They need greater accountability.” • Judy Hermary •

“I wish I could be more optimistic and enjoy the thought that seniors will finally get something!! But I know this government and their leader only too well. What is this going to really cost us? What will they take away to cover this?” • Elizabeth Poitras •

Injury rates

“Cost-effective is irrelevant when you need clean linen and have to wait for it to come from Calgary.”

“WorkSafeBC has failed our health care workers. I would like to see the money going into creating safer work environments so we can all be safe.” -

• Reggie Findlay •

• Nikki Barb •

On workplace bullying “People don’t come forward because they are afraid of being fired – maybe not right away – but slowly and systematically their work environment will become untenable. They will either be made to quit or their performance will be questioned to the point of being fired.” • Cathy Clemis •

Get connected Stay connected

@heu_in_bc

@HospEmpUnion

www.heu.org

hospitalemployees union

New Zealand was the first country to grant women’s suffrage in 1893, followed by Australia in 1902. Canada ranks sixth (1917) after Finland, Norway and Denmark. In countries like Iran, Jordan and India, citizens have their index finger inked to prove they voted.

Although Britain’s Royal Family is eligible to vote, it’s customary for them to abstain from casting a ballot in political elections.

The May 9, 2017 provincial election is the 41st general election in B.C. Voters will elect 87 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

Brenda Whitehall PHOTO

Until 2012, Chilean men and women were segregated and had to vote in separate polling stations.

IN THE LAB | HEU medical laboratory assistant Dexter Basbas has worked at St. Paul’s Hospital since 2007. Also called a phlebotomist, Dexter used to collect blood samples on the wards – anywhere from emergency to palliative care – seeing about 40 patients a day. Now, he works exclusively in the lab accessioning area, handling and processing specimens for patient diagnosis and treatment. “It’s fulfilling to contribute to the betterment of people’s health,” says Basbas, who is also a shop steward. “Even though we’re not as visible as others, it’s nice to be appreciated by our patients for the work we do.” 14 GUARDIAN | Spring 2017


HEU PEOPLE RETIREMENTS After working 38 years as a booking clerk in Medical Imaging at Surrey Memorial, Sherrie Clark (Surrey) retired in January. She is grateful to have worked with so many people and to have seen such a lot of changes and different procedures in her department. In retirement, she plans to pick up some work as a casual at her facility and will do some RVing and travel in Canada. She looks forward to joining an exercise class with fellow retirees and having more time to catch up with life. Esme Gard (Victoria General) retired after 25 years as a booking clerk in Medical Imaging. A former HEU clerical subcommittee and women’s caucus member, her activism spans HEU, CUPE and B.C. Fed conferences and she has served in many positions on her local executive, including chair, chief shop steward, senior trustee and OH&S steward. “She is an all-round good person with a huge heart for the membership,” says HEU representative Brenda Van Der Meer. Enjoy your retirement, Esme. Two long-time HEU members retired recently from Fleet­wood local – housekeeper Kui Tang retired in October after 24 years, and resident care aide Dora Figueroa, retired in January after 25 years. They will be missed by their coworkers and the residents! Happy retirement Kui and Dora! Manuelito (Lito) Matining (Arbutus Manor) retired in December 2016 after 27 years as an assistant cook. “The world needs more Litos,” says his former department manager Robert Linder. “He stood up for co-workers and he cared deeply for the residents. He had a great sense of humour and brought a lot of smiles and happiness.” Former co-worker Vera Armstrong says, “Lito is one of the kindest men I have ever met and he is hard-working to the core.” In January, HEU care aide Deb Tackaberry (Mount St. Mary’s) retired after 32 years of service. Active in her local, Deb held many positions – chief shop steward, vice-chair, assistant secretary and conductor. She was also a member of HEU’s People with disAbilities committee. Her most memorable challenges came from championing the fight against privatization at her facility. A fair and honest person, Deb has inspired many people!

MOVED? Please notify us of your change of address online: www.heu.org/change-address-form

46,000 members in 276 locals

Twenty four-year HEU member Amerjeet Kaur Thiara (Cowichan Valley) retired in September 2016. “I really enjoyed my career working in housekeeping, laundry and finally as a care aide,” says Amerjeet. In her local, she served as Cairnsmore Place site rep and as Cowichan Valley local shop steward. In her community, Amerjeet has been involved with the work of her local Sikh temple. She is hoping for improved health so that she can continue travelling, and she is looking forward to more time with her grandchildren.

IN MEMORIAM Alberta Campbell (age 52) passed away in March. She worked at Burnaby Hospital as a full-time maintenance worker. Prior to that, she was a casual laundry worker. Alberta also served as trustee on her local executive. She was on leave from work during the last year of her life when she fought a courageous battle with cancer. Alberta will be deeply missed by everyone in her workplace, and by her family and friends. Felicima Civitareale passed away on February 22. She worked for 24 years as a resident care aide at Fleetwood Place Care Centre. She served on her local executive as both trustee and warden. After an eight-month battle with cancer, Rhonda Johnson (age 49) passed away at Vancouver General Hospital in December. She worked as an admin secretary/clerk at UBC local. Rhonda impressed people with her dedication and professionalism. She is fondly remembered as a reliable, hard-working colleague with a warm smile and a generous heart. She will be missed by her partner, family members and colleagues. Sadly, Debra Kerr passed away on February 15, due to pancreatic cancer. She worked as a dietary aide at Beacon Hill Villa in Victoria. Debra was active at her local. She served as warden and trustee on her local executive and was a bargaining committee member in 2014. Debra was also a member of HEU’s People with disAbilities caucus. She will be dearly missed by her family, friends, colleagues, and her union brothers and sisters. Long-time activist Karin Peters (age 63), passed away suddenly in February. She worked for many years as a medical transcriptionist and was secretarytreasurer at Shaughnessy local during the hospital closure. Karin continued at Vancouver General as a valiant activist during the campaign which fought privatization of medical transcriptionists. She was laid off/ retired in 2013. Karin will be dearly missed by her colleagues, family and friends.

Equity matters

Did you know that HEU has five standing committees? Working with HEU’s equity officers, they provide outreach and advocacy to HEU members, and work in solidarity with other social justice groups. To learn more, call 1.800.663.5813 to speak with Equity Officers Sharryn Modder and Jennifer Efting. Ethnic Diversity • Indigenous Peoples Pink Triangle • People with disAbilities • Women

Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION

“In humble dedication to all those who toil to live.” EDITOR Patty Gibson ASSOCIATE EDITOR Brenda Whitehall GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elaine Littmann PRINTING Mitchell Press The Guardian is published on behalf of HEU’s Provincial Exec­utive, under the direction of the editorial committee: Victor Elkins, Jennifer Whiteside, Donisa Bernardo, Barb Nederpel, Ken Robinson, Jim Calvin, Betty Valenzuela HEU is a member of the Canadian Association of Labour Media

ERNIE TANGUAY Regional Vice-President Vancouver Coastal JOHN FRASER Regional Vice-President Vancouver Coastal MIKE CARTWRIGHT Regional Vice-President North LISA CREMA Regional Vice-President North BARB BILEY Regional Vice-President Vancouver Island BILL MCMULLAN Regional Vice-President Vancouver Island JODI GEORGE First Alternate Provincial Executive

PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE

HEU OFFICES

VICTOR ELKINS President

DONISA BERNARDO Financial Secretary

PROVINCIAL OFFICE 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby V5J 5M3 604-438-5000 1-800-663-5813 EMAIL heu@heu.org WEB www.heu.org

BARB NEDERPEL 1st Vice-President

REGIONAL OFFICES

JENNIFER WHITESIDE Secretary-Business Manager

KEN ROBINSON 2nd Vice-President

Vancouver Island

JIM CALVIN 3rd Vice-President

201-780 Tolmie Avenue Victoria V8X 3W4 250-480-0533 1-800-742-8001

BETTY VALENZUELA Senior Trustee TALITHA DEKKER Trustee KELLY KNOX Senior Trustee-Elect DAWN LOGAN Regional Vice-President Fraser JOANNE WALKER Regional Vice-President Fraser MARIA RODRIGUEZ Regional Vice-President Fraser RHONDA BRUCE Regional Vice-President Interior SHELLEY BRIDGE Regional Vice-President Interior JODY BERG Regional Vice-President Interior LOUELLA VINCENT Regional Vice-President Vancouver Coastal

VICTORIA

COMOX 6-204 North Island Highway Courtenay, V9N 3P1 250-331-0368 1-800-624-9940

Interior region KELOWNA 100-160 Dougall Rd. S. Kelowna V1X 3J4 250-765-8838 1-800-219-9699 NELSON 745 Baker St. Nelson V1L 4J5 250-354-4466 1-800-437-9877 NORTHERN 1197 Third Ave. Prince George V2L 3E4 250-564-2102 1-800-663-6539

Spring 2017 | GUARDIAN 15


Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION

Isn’t it time for some good news? posal Premier defends pros for private surgerie June 12, 2003

SPRING 2017 • VOL. 35 • NO. 1

9 out of 10 seniors fa don’t meet staffing cilities in B.C. guidelines

Jan. 26 2017

Doctors sound alarm over pital os C. difficile deaths at B.C. h Mar. 2, 2012

Hospital closure w il wait lists, critics s l add to ay Nov. 5, 2003 pital s o H n a i b al Columto overflow ward y o R d e Jamm im Hortons in turns T , 2011 Mar. 1

e Dementia sufferer spent fiv months in hospital hall Jan. 30, 2010

Thousands of health jobs to be privatized: leaked document Mar. 5, 2002

Province an tes up millio ns for more privat e d ay surgerie June 2, 201 5 s

Better health care can happen here.  votehealthcare.ca

Authorized by the Hospital Employees’ Union, Donisa Bernardo, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 1-800-663-5813

AGREEMENT NUMBER 40007486

RETURN TO The Guardian 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby, B.C. V5J 5M3

As BC prepares to go to the polls, the Guardian looks at what’s at stake and how members are mobilizing.

Guardian spring 2017  

The newspaper of the Hospital Employees' Union in British Columbia.

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