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Health minister repeals laws, saying B.C. needs satisfied, secure health workers

Health minister repeals laws, saying B.C. needs satisfied, secure health workers
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VANCOUVER—B.C. labour activists are celebrating the impending repeal of two bills they’ve fought to quash for almost two decades.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix introduced legislation on Thursday to repeal Bill 29 and Bill 94, which gave employers in the health-care sector broad licence to lay off employees and restrict employment-security language in collective agreements with unions. The acts came into effect in 2002 and 2003.

Workers at a Hospital Employees’ Union held a rally and barbecue in Coquitlam on July 8 that drew more than a hundred workers, family members and supporters. Labour advocates, and especially the Hospital Employees’ Union, have long argued Bill 29 and Bill 94 create unfair working conditions.  (Hospital Employees’ Union)

Labour advocates, and especially the Hospital Employees’ Union , have long argued the acts create unfair working conditions that disproportionately impact women of colour. These women comprise a large share of care-home employees performing duties like cleaning facilities and looking after seniors in long-term care.

Contract flipping — which occurs when contracted employees who unionize are laid off and replaced with workers under another contract — in B.C. and can result in low-wage workers losing whatever protections they’ve gained through unionization.

An expert panel that reviewed B.C.’s labour code for the first time since 1992 released recommendations last month aimed at ending contract flipping in certain sectors, including health care.

In a statement released by the government Thursday, Dix is quoted saying: “This legislation will help to enhance the team-based care environment people count on at every level, from hospitals to care homes and in the community.”

Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour, said in a statement Thursday that the repeal will be a positive move for both workers and patients who rely on their services and companionship.

“Repealing the legislation is a positive step that will end rampant contract-flipping in health care and make for more stable care — especially for seniors,” Lanzinger said.
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