BC’s 22,000 specialized health professionals working in hospitals and communities around the province reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday night after more than nine months of negotiations between the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) and Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Jeanne Meyers, Executive Director of Health Sciences Association of BC (HSA), is lead negotiator for the HSPBA.

“We went to the bargaining table with strong direction from members to address wages that have fallen behind their colleagues across the country, recruitment and retention strategies to support specialized health care professionals working under crushing workloads, and respect for the critical contributions of specialized health care professionals on the health care team,” she said.

“This tentative agreement provides general wage increases on par with recently ratified public sector agreements under the government’s wage mandate, which protects workers against the rising cost of living, and, importantly, a new wage structure that makes BC wages for health science professionals competitive with their counterparts across the country,” Meyers said.

HSA’s Board of Directors met last night to review the terms of the tentative agreement and is recommending members vote yes to accept the agreement.

President Kane Tse said it is a good deal for BC’s specialized health care workforce.

“When HSA members set their priorities for bargaining this time around, it was a cry for help.

“They have been coping with severe shortages for years. Add in the past three years of the dual health crises of the COVID 19 pandemic and the poisoned drug supply, the rising cost of living, increasing understanding about the impact of systemic racism and the impact that has on our members and the patients and clients they work with… it all adds up to a crisis in our workforce that had to be addressed,” Tse said.

“The tentative agreement reached this week goes a long way to addressing our members’ concerns,” he said.

Important features of the tentative agreement include:

  • General wage increase that acknowledges the impact of the rising cost of living
  • Overhaul of an outdated job classification system to better recognize the complexity and scope of the work of HSA members on the specialized health care team
  • Provisions to address the recruitment and retention crisis
  • Addressing occupational health and safety issues ranging from workers’ mental health, unsafe workloads, improved infection control standards, access to personal protective equipment and violence prevention
  • Acting on recommendations from the In Plain Sight report on the experience of Indigenous workers, patients, and clients in the health care system to work toward reconciliation and culturally safe health care
  • Plotting a roadmap for improved inclusion within the health care workforce for communities that experience marginalization
  • Scheduling and leave provisions to improve work-life balance
  • Improvements to continuing education and recognition of professional status.

HSPBA negotiations are led by HSA, which represents 80 per cent of health science professionals covered by the public sector contract. Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA), includes health science professionals represented by five unions: HSA, CUPE, BCGEU, PEA, and HEU. Health science professionals are critical members of the multidisciplinary health care team, providing specialized health care services in acute, rehabilitation, community, and long-term care settings. The many professions covered by the contract include respiratory and radiation therapists, lab and x-ray technologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and early childhood educators, social workers and health information management professionals. For a complete list of HSA professions, visit https://www.hsabc.org/about/our-members

Complete information about the tentative agreement will be provided to members across the province in the coming weeks, with dates for an online ratification vote to be determined.