Assisted living workers go on strike for fair wages

The assisted living workers went on strike after rejecting two agreements from their employers

Casa Loma Seniors Village and Comox Valley Seniors Village (CVSV) workers have started job action in hopes of fair wages and benefits.

The assisted living facilities are owned by Retirement Concepts, a company managed by Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management. The facility is staffed by members of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

According to Doreen Smith, BCGEU staff representative and negotiator, the company consistently pays some of the lowest wages in the Valley and across the Island.

“The members are standing in solidarity in order to improve healthcare for those seniors that are within the facilities,” she said, Sunday. “This is our first day. We’re doing just a couple jabs at the employer through the assisted living site – very short and sweet just to say we’re serious and we’re hoping that the employer will come to the plate with a better deal.”

According to Doreen, 93 per cent of union workers voted in favour of a strike after an agreement and a mediated agreement from Pacific Reach were both turned down by union workers.

Stephanie Smith, president of BCGEU, said Casa Loma and CVSV are both seeing recruitment issues brought on by low wages.

“It makes it extremely difficult to both recruit staff, but also to retain them,” she said. “For our members who are able to secure a position somewhere with Vancouver Island Health Authority, they’ll go because the pay is better, the benefits are better, they get a pension – those are the things that are missing at this facility.”

She adds that the wages range depending on the job classification, but Casa Loma and CVSV pay two to three dollars an hour less than other similar facilities.

The agreements differ for each Retirement Concepts location, and Casa Loma and CVSV, who are both under the same collective agreement, are the only facilities taking job action.

According to Stephanie, two other well-being seniors care facilities located in Surrey – Peace Portal Seniors Village and Rosemary Heights Seniors Village – recently took strike votes, but both reached tentative agreements without having to take job action. The tentative agreements still need to be ratified by BCGEU members.

“In fact 99 per cent of the time, even if a strike vote is taken, no job action happens,” she said. “In this case, unfortunately, the employer has not seen fit to address the outstanding issues.”

Casa Loma and CVSV employees are taking what Stephanie calls “targetted action,” meant to ensure the seniors continue to receive proper care while still sending a message to the employer.

“The job actions that our members are taking are very thoughtful, they’re very strategic. We want to negate serious impact to the residents as their care is always top of mind,” said Stephanie, adding that different non-essential departments will be doing rotating strikes to minimize the impact on daily operations.

Jennie Deneka, chief operating officer with Pacific Reach, said she is confident the seniors will continue to receive care and services under the Province’s essential service legislation while the company works towards an agreement with the union.

“The current collective agreement between Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management and the BCGEU at these communities had expired and Pacific Reach is committed to negotiating in good faith to reach a fair and reasonable collective agreement as soon as possible,” she said in a statement.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

The Comox Valley Hospice Society recently received a generous donation from a personal donor to help fill a fundraising gap created by COVID-19. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley Hospice Society receives significant donation

CVHS is facing a fundraising shortage created by the pandemic

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for much of the Comox Valley. File photo
WATER WISE: Healthy watersheds should be a priority for all political parties

Do you know where your party of choice stands on the subject of clean water?

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

The Comox Valley Glacier Kings sit third in the VIJHL North Division with six points, one behind the Oceanside Generals. The Yetis face the division-leading Campbell River Storm in a home and home this weekend. File photo
Comox Valley Glacier Kings win three of first six games

Six games into the 2020/21 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season, the… Continue reading

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Most Read