Supporting the unsung heroes of health care

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Health care aides, hospital cooks, cleaners and the thousands of people who work behind the scenes to support patient care in B.C.’s health care facilities are being better supported and protected by recent regulatory changes.

Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, met with members of the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) to talk about the Labour Relations Code (LRC) amendments he introduced that will protect their sector from the devastating impacts of contract flipping. As well, the largest segment of the HEU’s membership, health care aides, will benefit from regulatory changes that provide easier access to workers’ compensation for mental health disorders that come from work-related trauma.

“These changes will have the greatest impact in the health care sector, including care aides in hospitals, care homes and other public facilities,” Bains said. “Not only do health care assistants experience more incidents of violence on the job than any other sector, but they are also some of our most vulnerable workers when it comes to job security. I am very pleased that we are supporting these unsung heroes of our health care system, on both fronts.”

Amendments to the LRC introduced by Bains on April 30, 2019, will extend successorship protection to re-tendering of service contracts in specific areas, including non-clinical services in the health care sector. This affects care aides, food services, janitorial services and many other jobs in hospitals and care facilities.

The Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation was also amended in April to add publicly funded health care assistants to the list of occupations associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders. This recognition expedites the claims process to access supports and workers’ compensation for those illnesses once a formal diagnosis has been made.

The HEU represents 50,000 support workers, including 15,000 health care aides in publicly funded hospitals, long-term care facilities and community agencies. Its members are a vital part of patient care and safety in facilities throughout the province. Health care aides experience higher levels of workplace violence than any other occupation, resulting in both physical and mental health injuries.

“Our members provide the care and services that keep B.C.’s health care system functioning, often under very difficult circumstances,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union. “Expanding successorship protections to include re-tendering of contracts means our workers will have job security, and the seniors and other patients who rely on them will have more stability and better care. These changes acknowledge the valuable contributions of care aides and the toll that trauma experienced on the job can have on many of them.”

Learn More:

To read about the legislative amendments introduced on April 30, visit:

To read about the regulatory changes that took effect on April 16, visit:

To learn more about mental health disorder claims, see WorkSafeBC’s fact sheet:

For related high-resolution photos for media use, visit the Ministry of Labour’s flickr site: