2022 HSPBA RATIFICATION FAQS
Here are the most frequently asked questions about Bargaining 2021/2022.
PROPOSED PAY INCREASE
This is a three-year agreement, with minimum pay increases totalling approximately 12 to 14%, depending on if cost of living adjustments are triggered by inflation.
In the first year, covering April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, members will see an average pay increase of 3.83%.
In the second year, covering April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024, the pay increase will be a minimum of 5.5%, plus up to 1.25% in additional cost of living adjustments if the BC inflation rate — specifically the average annualized consumer price index for BC — remains higher than 5.5% over the twelve months between March and February of the year before.
In the third year, covering April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2025, the pay increase will be at minimum 2%, plus up to 1% in additional cost of living adjustments if the BC inflation rate is higher than 2% over the twelve months between March and February of the year before.
To see how this affects your income, try out the HSA Wage Calculator.
The pay increase for the first year (an average of 3.83%) is retroactive to the first pay period after April 1, 2022 as well as parts of the classifications redesign package. All other increases in this tentative agreement would be effective upon date of ratification, unless otherwise specified.
Yes. The pay increase for the first year is retroactive to the first pay period after April 1, 2022.
This is entirely under the control of the employer. The union will advocate for retroactive pay to be issued as quickly as possible.
You will receive retro pay whether or not you are still on the payroll when the employer is ready to issue the cheques. But only if they can find you.
If you are leaving your job soon – or if you've left the position at any time since the first pay period after April 1 of 2022 – make sure you provide the employer with an address where they can forward any retroactive payment owed to you.
Yes. The proposed agreement includes a Memorandum of Agreement that ensures that if any other public sector union under the same mandate wins a greater general wage increase, that increase would also be applied to this agreement. This does not include all provisions negotiated by other unions -- some items are specifically targeted towards the unique needs of a given union’s membership, and those are not necessarily covered by the “me-too” agreement. HSA monitors the agreements won by other unions very closely, and if a greater general wage increase is bargained then HSA will work to ensure it applies to this agreement as well.
The proposed increases are compounded over three years – meaning each yearly increase builds on the one before it – and over the life of the contract this compounding increase results in a total that is slightly larger than just adding up the raw numbers as listed in the proposed agreement. With compounding factored in, the average general wage increase over three years comes to 11.73%, and with Cost of Living Adjustment triggers in years two and three, a total of 14.16%.
A complicating factor is that the mandate from the employer includes a $0.25 per hour flat rate increase in year one of the agreement, and this flat twenty-five cents will change the percentage of every member’s increase differently depending on their current hourly rate. That’s why we’ve built a wage calculator that can provide specifics for your situation.
This question speaks to what a lot of people — and HSA members — are experiencing in BC. Housing prices are at historic highs, having increased 300% since 2000, and obviously wages have not kept pace. The situation isn’t fair, and it adds stress and anxiety to those already enduring the strain of delivering front line health care and community social services during the pandemic.
Your bargaining committee and elected leadership understand this. Housing affordability is a complicated issue, with many different causes and potential solutions. It’s also a provincial issue that’s far beyond the scale of what a 20,000 member union is able to change directly. That’s why we’re using a variety of approaches and working with others to push for change:
Bargaining - Your bargaining committee was clear and firm about the need for a significant wage increase in order to put more money in your pocket now, and in the future.
Advocacy - Every level of government needs to be part of the solution in building more housing that is affordable at every income level. HSA undertook a robust ‘get out the vote’ effort in the most recent local elections across the province.
Labour Movement - HSA has a seat at labour bodies at the provincial and federal level through the BC Federation of Labour and the National Union of Public and General Employees. Wherever possible, we raise the urgent need for more affordable housing across the province.
COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS (COLA)
In each of the second and third year of the proposed collective agreement there are General Wage Increases (GWIs) that may potentially be increased through the application of a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as follows:
The table below will scroll horizontally.
|General Wage Increase (GWI)
|Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
|Adjusted General Wage Increase (Adjusted GWI
|Up to an additional 1.25%
|Between 5.5% and 6.75%
|Up to an additional 1%
|Between 2% and 3%
The table above will scroll horizontally.
The COLA in the second and third year will be triggered if inflation exceeds the General Wage Increase (GWI) in each of these years.
The COLA cannot result in a reduction of the GWI. For example, if inflation in the second year is below 5.5%, there will not be a reduction in the GWI. The GWI in the second year would still be 5.5%. The three scenarios for the second year are as follows:
- If inflation is not above 5.5% the COLA is not triggered and the GWI will be 5.5%.
- If inflation is above 5.5% but less than 6.75% in the second year, the Adjusted GWI would be equal to the rate of inflation.
- If inflation is at 6.75% or higher in the second year, the adjusted GWI would be 5.5% plus the additional maximum COLA of 1.25% for an Adjusted GWI of 6.75%.
Inflation will be calculated using the annualized average B.C. Consumer Price Index (AABC CPI). The period used to calculate this average is March to February prior to the applicable April general wage increase.
The individual monthly CPI is added together over the 12-month period and then divided by 12 to determine the average. This figure is then compared with the average for the same period for the previous year. The result is the annualized average B.C. Consumer Price Index (AABC CPI).
AABC CPI is a standard measure for calculating inflation-indexed programs, entitlements and wage triggers. It is used in B.C. for the calculation of allowable rent increases, adjustments to the minimum wage and for MLA salaries.
Using this averaging, the AABC CPI for the period of March 2021 to February 2022 was 3.4%.
If the AABC CPI for the period of March 2022 to February 2023 exceeds 5.5% then the 2023 COLA is triggered.
If the AABC CPI for the period of March 2023 to February 2024 exceeds 2% then the 2024 COLA is triggered.
The most recent published AACPI figure (for the period of November 2021 to October 2022) is 6.4%.
The agreement’s inflation assumptions are based on the annualized average B.C. Consumer Price Index (AABC CPI). This number differs from some of the higher numbers you might hear about the level of inflation, but this measure provides a more sustainable and predictable foundation for Cost of Living Adjustments over the three years of the agreement — it’s most likely to provide more money for you and other HSPBA members over the duration of the agreement.
You can see that over the past 2 years, both inflation numbers have trended upwards:
When we look closer at the changes of both numbers from one month to the next, this is what we see:
This is why the average inflation is used to calculate your wage increase: it protects you from sudden drops in volatile inflation so that your wage increase is never at risk.
OTHER PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS
Many. Premiums will be increased for members working short notice ($2.00 an hour increase when members are offered and accept a straight-time shift within 24 hours of it starting), super shifts ($1.00 per hour more for each hour worked between 23:30 Friday and 07:30 Saturday, and between 23:30 Saturday and 07:30 Sunday), and weekend shifts (an increase to $2.30 an hour). The on call premium will increase to $5.95 per hour. There is also a new premium that will be added to the straight time hourly rate for members who work at designated forensic psychiatric units.
Members will also see more money for expense reimbursement for education, which is increased from $600 to $1000, and the leaves can now be applied to online/virtual training sessions.
The cost for renewing criminal record checks will now be covered by the employer, and the cost for sick leave notes outside of the disability management process will be split with the employer.
Unsustainable workload is the problem that needs to be solved, and the proposed agreement makes workload management an OHS issue. This approach means the employer has to respond with action to reduce the workload by dealing with the staffing problems themselves and treats correcting the workload issues for members as a priority. A working short premium, on the other hand, allows the employer to pay a small penalty for letting the problem persist, working a smaller number of staff harder rather than adding capacity to ensure safe and sustainable workload.
But the proposed contract also increases many other premiums. Working short notice premiums will increase ($2.00 an hour increase when members are offered and accept a straight-time shift within 24 hours of it starting), super shifts ($1.00 per hour more for each hour worked between 23:30 Friday and 07:30 Saturday, and between 23:30 Saturday and 07:30 Sunday), and weekend shifts (an increase to $2.30 an hour increase). The on call premium will increase to $5.95 per hour. There is also a new premium that will be added to the straight time hourly rate for members who work at designated forensic psychiatric units.
The agreement adds one day of paid leave (7.5 hours) for “household and domestic emergencies” — for example you wake up to find your furnace or hot water heater has failed and the situation needs immediate attention. The leave is available for each household emergency. For example, if your hot water heater fails in December, and a wind storm knocks a tree onto your roof in March, you are entitled to take the time to deal with both emergencies. There is already a considerable body of case law on the question of what exactly constitutes this kind of emergency, and what that means is that HSA legal experts are well-versed on what is and what is not acceptable.
Your benefits are unchanged. Since 2017, negotiations on benefits no longer happen as part of the HSPBA collective agreement bargaining. Instead, they are governed by the Joint Health Sciences Benefits Trust (JHSBT). This body meets each fiscal year to determine what changes, if any, might be viable. You are encouraged to send your thoughts directly to the JHSBT by emailing info [at] jhsbt.ca. As the JHSBT considers benefit redesign those items will be discussed by the Benefits Redesign Committee.
You can find out more about your benefits at the JHSBT by visiting their website.
The agreement provides for an additional 6.2 FTE of paid steward time for all HSPBA members, of which 5.2 FTE will apply to stewards for HSA members. This will bring the total complement of paid stewards for HSA members to 10.5 FTE. The union will be consulting with members on the best allocation for this increase of member servicing capacity. One of the steward positions is designated for the other unions with members covered by the HSPBA collective agreement.
This is a significant new benefit achieved in the tentative agreement, and provides approximately $3.5 million for partial reimbursement of professionals fees. This is in addition to any fees the employer requires as a condition of employment. In those cases, the employer is responsible for paying the fees.
The Professional Fees Fund presents an opportunity for members who may be required to pay professional fees -- such as college or regulatory fees -- to apply to have a portion of these reimbursed. It is intended to expand reimbursement beyond fees which are already reimbursable under Appendix 28
The workload pressures we are facing have built up over years, and it will take some time to fix the situation. But this agreement puts several things in motion that will begin relieving the pressure.
First, by providing the first significant wage increases in several decades, this agreement begins to undo the damage caused by the deliberate efforts of previous provincial government to drive down wages for specialized health care workers. Higher pay will help attract new recruits, and retain those already in the system.
The long-overdue reforms to the classifications system are complex but will deliver meaningful improvements to pay, job security and career development over the long term, helping reduce loss of those specialized health professionals who feel the current system doesn’t provide enough recognition, respect, and opportunity.
In addition, there are a number of smaller but significant improvements to workplace safety, enhanced leave provisions, more effective representation by stewards, cultural inclusion and education which will make working in the health care system more attractive. For example, in the proposed collective agreement, workload is recognized as an OHS issue, and immediate supervisors have an obligation to address safety concerns related to it. That’s going to result in more immediate changes to relieve workload pressures.
In addition to increased pay and many provisions making the health care system a more attractive place to work, the proposed agreement includes a specific provision to develop and implement strategies to improve training and recruitment of health science professionals, and a new Health Sciences Strategic Relations Committee which focuses on local level issues that impact recruitment and retention at the health authority level. The agreement also provides for participation in the new Joint Provincial Health Human Resources Coordination Centre, an industry-wide government-led consultation focussed on implementing a new provincial strategy on health human resources.
HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS
The proposed agreement builds on OHS work started in the 2019 - 2022 collective agreement which led to the creation of SwitchBC — an organization focused on the health, safety, and well being of BC’s health care workers. SwitchBC is guided by its Board of Directors, which is made up of an equal number of employer and worker representatives. The HSPBA holds one of the worker representative positions on the Board of Directors. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and various working groups support SwitchBC staff with projects including the building of an occupational health and safety resource centre, an update of the Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum (PVPC) and implementation of occupational health and safety standards covering OHS systems and psychological health and safety. The HSPBA has representation on the TAC and working groups.
The tentative agreement provides direction to SwitchBC in several important occupational health and safety areas, including on the development of system-wide training on biological hazards and the precautionary principle, updating the PVPC with a trauma-informed lens and developing suitable resources for health sector employers, unions and joint occupational health and safety committees in support of psychologically healthy and safe workplaces.
Recent pandemic experience pointed out the gaps that exist in current measures to protect workers from biological hazards. For example, the denial of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) was a common occurrence when a worker could not provide specific evidence that the PPE was necessary in the circumstances. The tentative agreement will entrench the “precautionary principle” which according to WorkSafeBC, means “adopting provisional precautions covering all routes of transmission, based on a higher level of protection, when the identity, aetiology or routes of transmission of the biological agent designated as a hazardous substance in section 5.1.1 have not been established”. In other words, workers in situations where routes of transmission may be in question – such as in the early days of COVID 19 when there were disagreements about whether or not transmission occurred via airborne particles – will be entitled to a higher level of protection. New language requests SwitchBC to develop system wide training on the precautionary principle.
Significant changes in Article 39 expand collective agreement protections for all types of workplace discrimination, bullying, harassment, and violence. Employers will be required to update policies and practices to ensure appropriate actions take place in response to reports of incidents, including on how incidents are reported, investigated, and followed up on.
The tentative agreement provides language ensuring that when a workload related health and safety concern is identified to a supervisor, the supervisor must initiate an investigation in the same way any other safety incident would be investigated. This includes a situation that has the potential to cause an injury to a worker or others.
The Canadian Standards Association Psychological Health and Safety Standard provides detailed guidelines covering workplace responsibilities for dealing with psycho-social hazards. New collective agreement language will now require the employer to consult with the union in identifying and controlling psycho-social hazards, including on the role of joint occupational health and safety committees in investigating those hazards, using the CSA Standard as guidance. As well, SwitchBC will be asked to develop resources to support this work.
VOTING ON THE TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
It’s important that the union has your personal email address so you can receive information about the agreement, invitations to information meetings, and your credentials to vote in December 14-21. If you have not provided HSA with your current personal email address, you’ll miss important updates about information meetings to discuss your questions about the contract, and information about how to participate in the voting.
All members covered by this tentative agreement will have a chance to vote to accept or reject it. The vote will be conducted online, using Simply Voting, a secure e-voting system that HSA members already use for election of Regional Directors.
The fastest way to receive your voting credential is by email.
The voting will be conducted through Simply Voting Inc., an independent, full-service provider of securely hosted online elections. Their voting system was launched in 2003 and currently over 4000 organizations in 67 countries, from municipalities to political parties to unions, rely on Simply Voting to safely execute their elections. Many reputable third parties have audited the company’s product, technical infrastructure, and corporate infrastructure. Customers include the BC General Employees Union, the BC Federation of Labour, the Alberta NDP, and the Mississauga First Nation.
If a majority of voting members reject this contract, the negotiations team would have to start from scratch. The terms of the proposed agreement would be tossed out, and the process would start again.
This means that while we might be able to achieve a better contract, we might also be forced to accept a worse one (in which case we would not be able to revisit the previous tentative agreement). The odds of being able to achieve a higher wage increase than that offered by the “Shared Recovery Mandate” are almost zero due to the cost to the government that would impose. (Each public sector agreement ratified in recent weeks has a “me too” clause where they receive the same higher wage increase if it is achieved by another union.)
The bargaining committee and your Board of Directors believes the proposed agreement is the best deal possible and is recommending that members vote yest to accept the tentative agreement.