Study after study has confirmed that seniors in for-profit care receive inferior support and suffer worse health outcomes compared to those in publicly-funded or non-profit alternatives. That’s because the profit motive inherent in private systems is directly at odds with spending money on things like adequate staffing or decent pay and benefits.
Back in the early 2000s the (then) newly elected BC Liberals passed healthcare laws that allowed privatization to proliferate by slashing labour rights and allowing wages to be driven down through contract-flipping. Working conditions eroded, and so did care. Almost 20 years later these irresponsible and negligent policy decisions led to where we are today: a seniors’ care sector in crisis.
Right now, 79 per cent Canada’s COVID-19 deaths are connected to long-term care facilities and make up the majority of deaths in B.C. Many seniors lost their lives too soon and their families have been left to pick up the pieces. This tragedy lays at the feet of for-profit companies because by under-employing workers at low wages in order to maximize profit, care workers were forced to cobble together hours by working at multiple locations. As we now know, this patchwork system turned out to be the ideal conditions for the spread of the virus.
The good news is that repairing seniors’ care in our province has already begun. In 2019 the BC NDP transitioned all home support workers – those working in the community – from private contracts back into direct government employment. The BCGEU had long called for this change and you can read more about it here. This was an important and timely achievement but now we need to do the same in residential care.
It’s time to take the profit motive out of seniors’ care entirely in B.C. by moving to a non-profit, publicly delivered system in our province.
Join us in calling on the BC government to phase-out for profit residential seniors’ care in B.C. now.