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Representing HSA members takes many forms

The Report: October / November 1999 vol.20 num.3

by CINDY STEWART

In recent years, government relations has become an important part of representing theinterests of HSA members.

Whether it is meeting with Ministers, ministry officials or MLAs, we have recognizedthat it is vital that decision-makers are educated about HSA, our membership and ourpriority issues. While it takes time and resources to do this effectively, I have foundthat by choosing our issues carefully and doing our homework in presenting a rational andreasonable case, HSA has been able to influence some very important public policy issuesin recent months.

In past issues of The Report, we have told you about the on-going debate over theinterpretation of Bill 28, the Health Authorities Amendment Act. Specifically, thisrelated to a dispute over which union has the right to represent clinical perfusionists.After the Labour Relations Board ruled in favour of HSA’s interpretation in February,HEU began an active lobbying campaign directed at government MLAs urging them to amend thelegislation to reflect the interpretation they favoured. At that time, the HSA Board ofDirectors felt we had no choice but respond. Regional Directors met with as many MLAs aspossible to present HSA’s perspective on this issue and urge them to leave the matterin the hands of the Labour Relations Board. So far, our efforts have been successful. Asthe recent legislative session was winding down, we received word that the government wasnot planning to amend the legislation.

In July, we learned that the Capital Health Region planned to implement budget cutsthat would have devastated out-patient rehabilitation therapy services in the region. Wecontacted the Ministry of Health and explained how these cuts would impact both patientservices and the workers who provide those services. Both here in the office and throughour excellent stewards in Victoria, we vigorously fought against the cuts and in the end,we were successful. Only weeks ago, the health board announced that there would be no cutsto out-patient rehab services.

While these stories do not make it into the newspapers, it is important that membersknow about them. Successfully representing HSA members can take many forms, not all thatare readily apparent. But, our recent experience does tell us that done well, and for theright issues, good government relations is an essential strategic element in doing thejob.

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