IN THE NEWS ~ Burnaby MP critical of George Derby Centre layoffs

Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian is criticizing a recent move at a local veterans' care home to fire nearly 100 unionized staff and contract out their jobs.

Burnaby's George Derby Centre, which provides care for approximately 300 veterans, announced last week that more than 90 staff would be laid off at the end of April. Faced with a limited budget from the Fraser Health Authority, the non-profit centre is planning to contract out housekeeping, food and nutrition, laundry, clerical and activity staff, in order to provide more care hours for the residents.

Julian said that managing and supporting long-term care facilities that address the evolving needs of veterans is a commitment that the government of Canada should never waver from.

"In Ottawa, the Department of Veterans affairs will be cutting 804 jobs over the next three years. Closer to home in Burnaby, the George Derby Centre will be firing in-house staff and contracting out their work to private companies, affecting close to 100 trusted employees who have become part of the family to the veterans," Julian said in a press release. "I have witnessed first-hand the supportive environment that enables the residents to live a meaningful life. They are treated with respect and dignity by competent and concerned staff. George

Derby's high standard of commitment to the well-being of their residents is a

source of pride in our community and under no circumstances should that level

of care be compromised."

According to Julian, the families of George Derby residents are worried about care standards, and the seniors will have to form relationships with the new workers, something that will be traumatic for seniors.

"Sunday, Nov. 11 is a day of remembrance for the fallen. Let us not forget our veterans in our communities who fought for Canada and served our country so faithfully. They deserve so much better," said Julian.

George Derby's residents are mostly from the Second World War and the Korean War, and more than three-quarters of them suffer from dementia.

The changes do not affect the nursing staff and those who help with feeding, bathing and grooming, according to Janice Mitchell, the centre's executive director. Mitchell told the NOW the centre made the difficult decision in order to increase the number of care hours the residents receive, and the main reason for the change was because the residents are more frail and have complex care needs.

According to the Hospital Employees' Union, which represents the staff that are about to be laid off, contracting out to private companies that pay low wages and offer few benefits has become common practice for B.C. long-term care facilities that face reductions in funding from health authorities.


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