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Province continues funding fair wages for long-term-care, assisted-living staff

December 16, 2022 at 10:03 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People living in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities will continue receiving high-quality care from fairly compensated workers as the Province renews its commitment to temporarily fund wage increases for non-unionized clinical staff working in the sector.

“COVID-19 has been challenging for people working in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities, and we’re committed to continuing to support them so they, in turn, can continue providing our most-vulnerable citizens with the consistent, compassionate and high-quality care they deserve,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Ensuring all health-care workers receive appropriate compensation for their invaluable work is a key commitment in our Health Human Resources Strategy.”

The Province started funding temporary wage increases for non-unionized clinical staff working in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities, as well as in provincial mental-health facilities, private hospitals and standalone extended-care hospitals, as part of the implementation of a provincial health officer (PHO) order issued on April 10, 2020. The wage increases gave non-unionized workers the same hourly wages as their unionized counterparts in line with the applicable Health Employers Association of British Columbia collective agreement.

When the order ends on Dec. 31, 2022, the Province will continue funding temporary wage increases through standardized contracts between health authorities and employers.

On Dec. 31, 2022, the provincial health officer will also rescind the PHO orders that limit clinical staff working in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities, provincial mental-health facilities, private hospitals and extended-care hospitals to working at one worksite or within one worksite cluster. The order limiting staff to working at one site was made on April 15, 2020. The order allowing vaccinated staff to work within one worksite cluster was made on Dec. 15, 2021.

Consistent with current PHO orders, health-care workers still need to be immunized with a primary COVID-19 vaccine series, unless they have obtained an exemption from the PHO.

“Given British Columbia’s high level of vaccination against COVID-19 among all staff in long-term-care and assisted-living facilities, it’s no longer necessary to have restrictions on where health-care staff can work,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 cases in all health-care settings and adapt our approach as needed to protect the health and safety of patients, residents and staff.”

Ensuring health-care workers receive competitive wages is part of the Province’s Health Human Resources Strategy. This strategy, announced on Sept. 29, 2022, ensures people get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. The strategy focuses on 70 actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.

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