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Plan to contract out staff at George Derby Centre halted

A plan to lay off more than 90 staff at George Derby Care Centre in Burnaby and replace them with contract staff has been shelved.

On Friday (Nov. 23), the board of directors of the veterans care facility votedĀ  unanimously in favour of a moratorium on the proposed contracting out process, according to a press release.

Ike Hall, president of the George Derby Care Society, said the board is committed to "ensuring the continuity of care for the residents" at George Derby, the majority of whom are veterans. Hall added that the board would "carefully review current contract negotiations with the Hospital Employees Union and determine next steps."

Hall also announced that as soon as possible the board will resume talks with Veterans Affairs Canada and the Fraser Health Authority to seek increased funding to guarantee the centre "continues to provide high quality, personal care of veterans."

And he issued a "call to action" to the families of residents, supporting partners, volunteers, local politicians and the public to urge the health authority and Ottawa to increase funding without delay.

The plan to layoff union staff at the centre was announced late last month, and sparked immediately criticism from families of those in care, and the public. Staff affected by the change would have been housekeeping, food services, laundry, clerical and activity staff, who make up about one-third of the union's staff there, according to the HEU.

At the time of the original announcement George Derby executive director Janice Mitchell said the goal of contracting out was to enable the centre to increase the level of care it provides with the funding it receives. The financial savings was to be put into more nursing and care aid staff, she said, as well as to provide more restaurant-style meal service.

"It was a difficult decision and it certainly wasn't taken lightly," she said at the time.

The centre is home to 300 residents. Over the last several years, the care the residents require has become more complex, Mitchell said, in the earlier interview.

The changes were to have taken place prior to April 2013.

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