Video: MLA Rice and Simons question Minister for Health on Flipped Contracts

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N. Simons: Recently housekeepers in Vancouver Coastal health care facilities on the Sunshine Coast were told that a new company would be taking over. Compass would be taking over the contract from Aramark. Vancouver Coastal Health and the new company told people on the Sunshine Coast that many workers would retain their jobs. “Laid-off Workers Welcome Back” read the headline, in fact. That didn’t happen, and 17 workers were left wondering why they weren’t rehired.

Because of this contract flipping, good workers were left out of work. Can the minister explain why these workers were treated so poorly?

Hon. T. Lake: In British Columbia, we strive to provide top-quality health care and value for money in everything we do. That’s part of the institute for health innovations’ triple aim. That’s something we follow here to make sure that taxpayers’ money is well spent and used effectively to produce the best health outcomes.

It is not unusual for health authorities to look for the best value from their service providers, and in this case, that’s what Vancouver Coastal Health has done. It is also a responsibility of the health authority to make sure that the services are top-notch and continue to serve the patients in their health authority at the level that British Columbians have come to expect.

Madame Speaker: Powell River–Sunshine Coast on a supplemental.

N. Simons: Trained workers are value for money. These workers who were laid off are now looking in the newspaper for new jobs, and they’re seeing their old jobs being advertised. They can’t get those jobs, and that seems patently unfair to me.

I’m not sure why the minister is defending the indefensible. Some of these workers were in their 50s. Some had never missed a day of work in over ten years. They were willing and qualified to work under the new company’s collective agreement.

The people of the Sunshine Coast were told one thing; another thing happened. Presumably, this minister is going to stand idly on the sidelines and think this unfair practice is fine. How can the minister countenance this kind of behavior?

Hon. T. Lake: I mentioned that health authorities have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer to ensure that they’re providing high-quality services at the best possible value. Vancouver Coastal has assured me that Compass Group Canada is a highly experienced environmental services company, and its bid for the housekeeping contract in Vancouver Coastal and Providence Health Care facilities does provide the best value.

In fact, the contract includes significant value add-ons that were not included in the previous contract, including the addition of 56 more workers, creating jobs and providing high-quality health care for the patients of Vancouver Coastal.

J. Rice: This has happened time and time again with this government. They flip contracts, and they ruin lives. It may benefit American companies, but it doesn’t benefit B.C. families and B.C. communities.

Will the Health Minister do the right thing and ensure these qualified, hard-working people get their jobs back?

Hon. T. Lake: Well, the member should maybe listen to the answer to the question before she speaks rotely from her notes that she has. In fact, 56….

Hon. T. Lake: Vancouver Coastal assures me that 56 more jobs have been created. In fact, on average, 86 percent of former employees have been hired by the company in Vancouver, Richmond, North Shore, Sea to Sky…

Hon. T. Lake: …Sunshine Coast and Powell River. Eighty-six percent of those people were rehired, in addition to 56 more positions that were created