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Senior’s care report is priority for HEU

When a final report on senior’s care is released next year, the Hospital Employees Union will make sure the government takes action to improve the system, Judy Darcy, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees Union, told members at a Vancouver convention Tuesday.

The affect of privatization and contracting in residential care facilities were at the top of Darcy’s list while speaking on the challenges that HEU members are facing after ten years of Liberal government.

“It’s no longer a question in British Columbia about whether it’s ok for corporations to make profits at the expense of seniors, the only question is ‘how much’?” said Darcy.

The first part of B.C. ombudsperson Kim Carter’s report The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia was released on Dec. 17, 2009 and contained 10 recommendations on issues affecting seniors in residential care.

A lack of government commitment to care and the rights of seniors in residential facilities was chief among Carter’s initial findings. The report also found a lack of information about residential facilities available to seniors and families for planning future care.

Part two comes out in 2011 and will address home and community care, home support, assisted living and residential care, according to an update on the report at

The update also notes that the investigation required to write the report is the largest the ombudsman’s office has ever undertaken and involves almost every prominent health organization in B.C.

To Darcy, the devaluation of wages and benefits for HEU residential care workers, increased residential fees for seniors and a lack of staff at homes means that “the Liberals just don’t get it”.

A fact sheet on senior’s care notes that the government has established a continuum of care for seniors in B.C., which includes an expected budget of $724 million for home care and home support for 2010/2011.

The remainder of Darcy’s speech to her membership detailed the struggle for solidarity in the aftermath of 2009’s raid attempt by the BC Nurses Union, retaining worker’s rights amid restructuring of health services, the threatening role of multi-national management corporations and workplace safety, among other issues.

Held at the Westin Bayshore in Coal Harbour, the weeklong 27th biennial HEU convention began Monday and will end on Friday with a keynote speech by B.C. NDP leader Carole James.

Justin Langille reports on work and labour for The Tyee.

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