No surprise, lower wages and benefits at Campbell River seniors care facility

Current employees are being offered their old jobs back, but they had to reapply for those positions

It’s what health care workers and staff at New Horizons expected from the new contractor: A chance to reapply for their current jobs only at lower wages and fewer benefits.

“No surprise here,” said Mike Old of the Health Employees Union. “The whole point of this exercise was to cut costs by cutting wages and benefits.”

This week, the 120 employees – who will all be laid off from the care home effective April 30 – received the compensation package from the new care provider, Kamloops-based Carecorp Senior Services.

The majority of employees at New Horizons, around 60, are registered care aids. About five years ago, newly hired workers started at $18.39 an hour and today those same workers earn just over $20 an hour.

Now, new workers start at $17.50 an hour which increases to a maximum of $18.50 after two years.

“It’s a pretty big drop in wages,” noted Old.

As well, the employer used to pay 100 per cent for extended benefits premiums and medical services plan. That’s now been reduced to 70 per cent with the employee paying the rest.

Also, employees have a maximum of five sick days per year for which the company will only pay 70 per cent of the wage.

Current employees are being offered their old jobs back, but they had to reapply for those positions and not all are coming back. One worker said that just 32 out of 60 registered care aids had signed up for job interviews which took place yesterday and today.

Old expects there will be a lot of job turnover and that will affect the residents who are mostly seniors, “This disrupts their continuity of care.”

New Horizons is owned by Park Place Seniors Living of Vancouver. According to the agreement it has with the province, the owners can contract out care, cleaning and cooking services once current contracts expire.

That was the move Park Place took just before the new year when it handed layoff notices to all New Horizons employees. When Carecorp takes over in May, the workforce will be unrepresented, but it can still, if they choose, rejoin the Health Employees Union. The trouble is, said Old, is that companies just keep flipping care providers, and some have done it three and four times.

“We’ve seen this movie played out in communities all over B.C.,” he said.