About 60 care aides, assisted living workers and recreation aides at The Hamlets in Penticton were told on Wednesday they will be out of work on Aug. 31.
The Hospital Employees’ Union is now calling for Interior Health Authority to audit the books of the for-profit care facility.
“This is a totally unwarranted disruption in the continuity of care for these residents,” said HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy. “And, the health authority has a responsibility to find out where the money it provides to the operator for the care of local seniors is going.”
The HEU claims Interior Health has increased its payments to H&H Total Care (operators of The Hamlets) by more than 10 per cent last year to $8.2 million. Darcy said yet, the operator is now targeting workers’ wages for rollbacks. About three-quarters of residential care beds are subsidized by Interior Health Authority at The Hamlets, who currently have about 150 employees on staff.
“I guess the question to be asked is just how much profit should this operator be allowed to make from the care of seniors?” said Darcy.
H&H Total Care COO Hendrik Van Ryk said the collective agreement with the 60 or so employees ends on Aug. 31 and funding is the issue behind the terminations.
“We are faced with a no-funding increase from the health authority and there are cost pressures that we have experienced in the past year in light of no funding left. That puts us in the position that we have had to make a decision which was to provide notice to contractor help,” said Van Ryk.
He said H&H Total Care did receive a 10 per cent increase but with new government standards on care hours that also came at a cost.
“We had to increase staff requirements. So its fine to say there was increased funding, but there was a catch. We had to go from 2.8 hours of care per resident per day to 3.15 hours. Well, that all comes at a cost,” said Van Ryk. “If you quickly do the math on say 100 residents and you see the difference it doesn’t really amount to increased revenue, it just amounts to an adjustment to the grid.”
Van Ryk said it would be up to the next contractor who wins the tendering process to decide on who would be hired. The Hospital Employees Union will still be representing other employees who are not contracted out in support services and the nursing staff.