Workers are no longer moving between care homes: B.C. health minister

All long term care homes in B.C. have now moved to single-site staffing, a key measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to B.C.’s health minister.

“All 8,878 employees who previously worked in multiple sites are now assigned to a single site,” Adrian Dix said at a press conference Thursday, adding that 501 sites have moved to single site staffing in B.C.

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued the single-site staffing order on April 15 as the province was dealing with multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. Both residents and workers were getting the virus, but it proved especially deadly to long-term care residents.

Many care aides and other employees worked at multiple sites to work enough hours to make ends meet, and that led to outbreaks spreading from site to site. According to the Hospital Employees Union, workers at non-unionized workplaces were makes as much “as $7 an hour less than those paid under the provincial standard in the Facilities Bargaining Association collective agreement.”

To make sure all workers would be able to adhere to the single-site order, the B.C. government stepped in to make up that wage disparity. Dix initially estimated that would cost $10 million every month, but said Thursday that he and his staff are working to provide an update on that figure.

While the number of outbreaks in long-term and acute care have fallen as B.C. has managed to flatten the curve of overall cases, the province still continues to see new outbreaks.

On Wednesday, health officials announced new outbreaks at Mission Memorial Hospital and Tabor Home, a long-term care home in Abbotsford. Currently there are a total of seven outbreaks at long term and acute care facilities.

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