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Okanagan facility HEU workers ratify deal

Five-year deal signed into 2025 at Good Samaritan Canada facilities in Vernon, Penticton, Salmon Arm
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Hospital Employees Union members from Vernon’s Heron Grove hosted a two-hour rally outside the facility Wednesday, Sept. 27. Staff at Heron Grove and six other facilities owned and operated by the Good Samaritan Canada Society have now ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. (Roger Knox - Black Press)

Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) workers in long-term care for Good Samaritan Canada have labour peace into 2025.

Nearly 1,100 HEU members renewed a collective bargaining agreement that prevents contracting out, provides enhanced benefits and shift differentials, and for the first-time embeds hallmark protections to wages currently subsidized by the province.

That includes members who work at Vernon’s Heron Grove, Salmon Arm’s Pioneer Village and Hillside Lodge, and Village by the Station in Penticton.

The five-year contract expires March 31, 2025, and HEU secretary-business manager Meena Brisard calls the agreement good news for residents and workers at Good Sam’s seven B.C. facilities (also includes New Westminster, Delta, and Gibsons).

“For the past few years, Good Samaritan – like many other contracted long-term care providers across the province – has struggled with fully staffing their facilities,” says Brisard. “The renewed contracting out protections, improved benefits and enhanced shift differentials in this new five-year deal together offer a good step forward when it comes to retaining skilled, longtime staff and recruiting new workers to look after the 900-plus residents in Good Samaritan’s care.”

Good Samaritan Canada has also agreed to maintain their staff wage levels at the same rates that workers in publicly-run, long-term care facilities receive, should there be any changes to annual provincial wage top-up subsidies to for-profit and non-profit care home operators.

“This assurance that wages will be maintained at the same level as found in the publicly-operated care homes offers much-needed economic security for Good Samaritan workers, particularly in these uncertain times of mounting household costs,” says Brisard.

According to the Ministry of Health, at the outset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the province brought in wage levelling to ensure residents in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities continued receiving high-quality care from fairly compensated workers.

Workers at the seven Good Samaritan Canada sites were without a contract for more than three-and-a-half years. Following more than two years of negotiations with Good Samaritan Canada, a successful strike vote and one day of targeted job action, HEU’s bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement on Nov. 3. Voting on the tentative mediated deal took place at the seven sites between Nov. 16 and 24.

“With this agreement in place at Good Samaritan, HEU will continue its focus on reducing staff turnover and providing a higher standard of working and caring conditions that care home residents and care home workers deserve,” says Brisard.

READ MORE: Okanagan care facilities rally outside in contract dispute

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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