Plans in place to keep Kelowna General operational in the event of a strike – Okanagan


Interior Health (IH) has sent hundreds of deployment letters to its non-union workers as it prepares for a strike at its hospitals and other care facilities.

Global News obtained the letter, which reads “in the event of professional action, Interior Health is required by the Labor Relations Board to plan for the provision of essential services and the continuation of patient care.”

The letter goes on to say that excluded staff and managers (uncontracted) will be required to work a combination of their current position and assigned essential services up to a combined 60 hours per week.

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This means that people who work in administration, management or as medical directors will be reassigned to other essential tasks. This includes food services and housekeeping.

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IH has confirmed that it plans in the event of a strike by some of BC’s largest unions.

That includes the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU), which says it is planning a possible strike vote as early as May.

Click to play video: 'BCGEU President on contract negotiations with the government'

BCGEU President on contract negotiations with the government

BCGEU President on contract negotiations with the government

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith said negotiations between the union and government negotiators for a new contract for 33,000 civil servants are currently at an impasse. Their current contract expired on April 1.

In an email to Global News, IH said its priority was ensuring safe staffing levels for patients, residents and clients.

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“Certain health care services will be deemed essential in accordance with provisions of the Code which require the maintenance of services essential to health, safety and well-being. Therefore, some unionized employees would continue to work during a strike. These staffing levels for essential services are negotiated or adjudicated, if necessary, and, when finalized, are issued in an order by the Labor Relations Board,” the email states.

Non-union employees, according to IH, are required to support essential services and will be called upon to provide support to clinical and non-clinical areas during any strike.

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Potential strike looming for BC General Employees’ Union members

In letters sent to non-contract IH employees, staff are told they must be ready for orientation sessions for their new essential service positions which will begin as early as next week.

IH hopes that the parties involved can reach a renewed collective agreement before any industrial action takes place.

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