Employees of Penticton’s Haven Hills Retirement Home took to the streets late last week to voice their concerns over collective bargaining currently going on.
“We certainly have moved forward, however (the) employer has not adequately addressed our concerns around employee recruitment and retention,” said Hospital Employees Union local spokesperson Linda Schultz. “Or fair wages and compensation, which will keep employees here.”
Schultz said there’s understaffing and a lot of overtime at the retirement home, which she said would be more acceptable with better compensation.
“We also know that the care hours for the seniors are not up to the level that the (B.C.) Seniors Advocate has recommended,” Schultz said. “Fair treatment for the staff will lead to better treatment and care for seniors.”
Schultz couldn’t say offhand what the recommended care hours were or what care hours were being provided at the retirement home, but a recent report from the Seniors Advocate pointed to some areas where seniors care around the province was lacking.
For instance, a quarter of seniors reported they sometimes, rarely or never received help going to the toilet when needed, while just 46 per cent reported staff regularly made time for conversation. More than a third responded that they did not consistently get help needed at mealtimes.
“The workload’s very high and hard to manage. Workers do their very best to provide care for the seniors at the level that it’s supposed to be, but they’re sometimes missing their breaks or not getting the sleep that they need,” Schultz said.
“It affects (the seniors) because as much as people are trying their best, staff are trying their best to provide the care that’s available, only one person can only do so much. If you’re short and having to cover for someone else’s shift, a senior may not get all the care they need.”
The ralliers were getting plenty of attention — in just a few short minutes, several passing drivers honked their horns as they passed the group of a few dozen employees.
“I think it makes people feel good about the circumstances and feeling support,” she said. “We do feel that the public is in favour of care for seniors. Seniors are all of our family members. And we do believe the employer wants that as well.”
The HEU and the employer were in talks on Friday, but a staffer at the union said on Monday they hadn’t come to any agreements as of yet.