This Labour Day, let’s remember the seniors

Dear editor,

This Labour Day, members of the Hospital Employees’ Union are joining Canadians across the country in celebrating the contributions working people make towards building a healthier, fairer, more equitable society.

But as we enjoy the holiday with family and friends, let’s remember the hard-won accomplishments our seniors have made and how they have improved our workplaces and communities throughout their lives.

We owe the generations that preceded us a great deal of gratitude.

Medicare, pensions, unemployment insurance and quality education for our children are all part of an outstanding legacy that our parents and grandparents established for the benefit of us all.

And along with programs like these, they fought over many decades to improve wages and working conditions that help keep workers safer on the job, support families, and strengthen local economies.

Today’s seniors were looking out for us. Now we need to look out for them.

HEU has a long tradition of caring for seniors that dates back to the 1970s when the union first organized workers in B.C. nursing homes.

At the time, working conditions for staff and caring conditions for residents were poor. But as standards for workers improved, so did the conditions of care for our elderly.

Today, we are deeply concerned that understaffing in our care homes is eroding the quality and level of care our seniors need and deserve.

A report from B.C.’s Seniors Advocate reveals four out of five care homes in B.C. don’t receive enough funding to meet even the government’s own minimal staffing guidelines.

By its very nature, good quality care is dependent on having enough trained and experienced staff to provide that care.

Our union represents about 20,000 workers in long-term who are dedicated to meeting the complex needs of our elderly.

We are advocating for the funding needed to ensure our care homes are properly staffed.

Without enough staff, workers are stretched to the limit, seniors are left waiting, and families worry their loved ones will not get the care they need.

Please join our call at carecantwait.ca to improve the staffing and caring conditions in B.C.’s residential care homes.

Our seniors deserve better. Because when it comes to meeting their needs in our busy residential nursing homes, care can’t wait.

Jennifer Whiteside

Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager