The board behind the non-profit George Derby Centre has halted the decision to contract out more than 90 unionized jobs at the Burnaby care home for veterans.
The board's decision was made Friday, just one day before a workers' rally in front of the centre that drew a crowd of more than 200.
"During our rally the board of directors - two of them came out - and asked if they could speak, and they delivered the message. At a special meeting (Friday), they decided they would put a moratorium on the contracting out at George Derby Centre, and the layoffs would also have moratorium," said Margi Blamey, spokesperson for the Hospital Employees' Union, which represents the workers who were about to be laid off. "The crowd absolutely erupted, it was fantastic."
Ike Hall, George Derby Care Society acting president, said the board is committed to "ensuring the continuity of care for the residents" at George Derby. There approximately 300 residents at George Derby, and the majority suffer from dementia. Faced with budget constraints, the centre decided to lay off more than 90 unionized workers by April 2013 and contract out their services to save money in order to deliver more care hours to the residents.
Hall said the board would review contract negotiations with the Hospital Employees' Union in order to determine the next steps, and he also said the board will resume direct talks with Veterans Affairs Canada and the Fraser Health Authority for increased funding.
The non-profit centre receives most of its funding from Fraser Health, but Veterans Affairs covers some programs.
According to a press release from the board, Hall called on the families of residents, supporting partners, volunteers, MPs, MLAs, the labour movement and the public to urge the Fraser Health Authority and Veterans Affairs Canada to increase necessary funding at George Derby.
NDP leader Adrian Dix and Jim Sinclair of the B.C. Federation of Labour both spoke at the rally, as did Dale Gebhard, a man whose father is a resident at George Derby. Veterans from the South Burnaby Branch of the Canadian Legion, No. 83, attended the rally, wearing their medals and carrying flags. Veterans from inside the facility came out in their wheelchairs to listen.