The B.C. government is bringing thousands of support service workers that were previously contracted out, back to working directly for health authorities.

Provincial officials said the switch will help people in care facilities access more consistent, safe and stable patient care.

The change will begin in the fall and provincial officials said the move will improve wages, working conditions, job security and stability for approximately 4,000 workers.

“Health-care workers rely on a committed and stable workforce to help them with their jobs, and this move also better protects support service workers in their positions,” said Premier John Horgan.

“Previous government actions cut health-care wages, took away the jobs they relied on, and created a chain reaction of layoffs that saw women disproportionately affected – the largest such layoffs in Canada’s history. Nearly 20 years later, we are still living with the aftermath of those choices, with workers paid less to do the same work as their colleagues in the public system. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

B.C. government officials said the province is working with the Hospital Employees’ Union, health authorities and contractors to find a plan that will allow employers to address the change.

“During this pandemic, we’ve seen just how critical these workers are to protecting patients and the public, but we’ve also seen how privatization has marginalized these workers within health care where they often work in the lowest-paid positions and are among those most at risk of infection,’ said Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union.

“Reuniting the health-care team is the right thing for workers and patients. It ends the economic discrimination experienced predominantly by women and racialized people working within our healthcare system, and it ensures greater worker and patient safety while improving retention rates.”

“Having fought for the rights of workers, I understand how devastating it can be when these entitlements are taken away,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour.

“Restoring these rights for thousands of health-care workers in B.C. is a step towards better wages, job security, and improved working conditions.”