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Contract talks begin for B.C.’s health care workers

Contract negotiations are underway for 58,000 health care workers across the province.

The talks are between the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Negotiations are taking place amid a two-year pandemic, which the B.C. government said has left health care workers short-handed and exhausted while some struggle to make ends meet.

“Through this global health crisis, health care workers have found themselves in frightening circumstances, dealing with an unpredictable virus that has turned their workplaces upside down,” said Meena Brisard, a spokesperson for the FBA. “Through it all, they have shown incredible courage and commitment. But they are on the brink – exhausted and burnt out – and we should all be very concerned about what this means for the sustainability of our health care system beyond this pandemic.”

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Brisard is also the secretary-business manager for the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU), which represents over 90 per cent of FBA members.

B.C. government officials said the unions will be negotiating for safer workplaces, improvements to the compensation package, and more measures to support retention and recruitment of skilled health care workers.

“We need bold measures to support health care workers now and attract the health care workforce of tomorrow,” says Brisard.

According to the province, a 2021 HEU poll reported that workloads, mental health, family relationships and their sense of personal safety have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

It noted that nearly one in four workers said they are more likely to quit health care within the next two years as a direct result of their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Finance, 58,000 workers are covered by the FBA collective agreement, making it the single largest table in the current round of bargaining in B.C.’s public sector.

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