British Columbia

B.C. aims for better patient care by increasing safety of health-care workers

The provincial government plans to spend $8.5 million over the next three years to create a new organization that will tackle workplace safety for health care workers. 

Province says injury claim costs increased by $11 million last year

The province says safer workplaces for healthcare workers will result in better care for patients. (Rocketclips, Inc./Shutterstock)

British Columbia's provincial government plans to spend $8.5 million over the next three years to create a new independent agency that will tackle workplace safety for health care workers. 

In a written statement on Sunday, the Health Ministry said the agency will deal with what it says are increasing rates of injuries for healthcare and social service workers. In 2018, injury claim costs totalled more than $107 million, the province says, which represents an increase of about $11 million from the previous year.

"Health-care providers are there for us when we need them most — they deserve safe and healthy workplaces," said Health Minister Adrian Dix in the statement.

"This new organization represents a significant consensus by all stakeholders that we must do more to protect the health and safety of the skilled healthcare workers that all British Columbians depend on." 

Reducing injuries for better care

The province's health-sector bargaining associations, health employers and the provincial government will all jointly lead the new non-profit organization, including the Health Ministry, the B.C. Nurses' Union, the Hospital Employees' Union, Doctors of B.C. and the Health Employers Association of British Columbia.

The new agency was born out of a working group of those same stakeholders, which presented a report and recommendations after the latest round of public sector collective bargaining identified the issue of workplace violence.

Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager at the Hospital Employees' Union and co-chair of the working group, said the new organization is "an important step forward in reducing injuries and promoting safe workplaces in the health-care sector."

 "A focus on safety in health care will improve the lives of workers while improving the quality of care," Whiteside said in the statement. 

Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Health Employees Association of BC, echoed Whiteside's remarks. McMillan said reducing injuries and time lost among workers "means health-care workers can better provide care to those who need it."

The Health Ministry said next steps will be for the working group to identify board members for the agency. The ministry says it expects the agency to be operational by late spring 2020.



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