What's up and what's not with union actions and grievances

The Report: November / December 1999 vol.20 num.4

HSA calls for review of Vancouver area rehab services

HSA is urging the Vancouver / Richmond Health Board to delay making wide-rangingchanges to the way rehab services are delivered in the region until the Boards ownreview of rehab programs and services is complete.

The health board was scheduled to vote this month on a plan to transfer all rehab servicesin the region to an enhanced site at George Pearson. This proposal would see the buildingof an "adaptive development complex" on the Pearson site with proceeds from thesale of the GF Strong premises, and amalgamate rehab services from Vancouver Hospital, GFStrong, and Pearson.

HSA President Cindy Stewart said making such wide-ranging decisions before the completionof the planned regional review just doesnt make sense.

"Our view is that its too early for the Vancouver / Richmond Health Board toundertake such a huge change in the provision of rehab services without a better idea ofthe current needs in this region", she said. "And one of the best ways for theBoard to gather relevant information is by talking directly to health care workers whoprovide the services."

She added, "We also understand that the Boards staff will be making a report tothe Board on November 25 regarding this plan and its feasibility, and we expect the reportwill recommend a similar delay and consultation process."

Welcome to six new membersat PACS

HSA welcomes six new members at Peace Arch Community Services working at theSpecialized Adult Services program.

These members assist developmentally delayed adults in acquiring life skills to becomemore independent, in preparation for having their own home, living in a group homesetting, or entering a family home.

Layoffs at John HowardSociety

Unionized community social service workers can take heart: theres help availableeven if you are displaced from your job.

Ten staff members at John Howard Society were laid off this month after the closure of atwo-month old residential program. The Odyssey program was to have providedresidential treatment and counselling for youths referred through the legal system. Odysseywas structured as a fee-for-service program, with services paid for by the referringagency.

However, according to the John Howard Society, most agencies were not able to refer youthsto this program because the government has cut $20 million from residential programfunding this year.

HSA Steward Paul Geoghegan at John Howard Society said having a union on side during thisdifficult time has made all the difference. "A lot of us feel that the layoff andbumping scenario is our worst nightmare of being a unionized site, but the fact that weare unionized allowed us to have some input and ensure some accountability in thissituation," he said.

However, he is disappointed that the recently negotiated access to retraining and otherresources offered through the Healthcare Labour Adjustment Agency are not immediatelyavailable. "I do understand that this is a new process, but Im disappointedthis wasnt more solidly in place before this layoff came." HSA is currentlycalling on the Ministry of Children and Families to provide bridging resources to theseand other social service sector workers until the details of the HLAA access are workedout.

"I think that the union has done very well," Geoghegan said. "I cantsay enough about our Labour Relations Officer Dave Martins part in this. Hisexperience and advice have been exceptionally valuable."