Facing the challenges of a changing system

The Report: June / July 2003 vol.24 num.3


hange has become an old friend in Region 4, and probably also in yours, ever since the federal Liberals first slashed provincial transfer payments.

Now we can blame even more change on the BC Liberals as they take us in overnight legislative sessions to places where we thought wed never go back.

In the early 1990s, GF Strong Rehab and George Pearson Centres, then known as BC Rehab, changed -departments" to -resource centres" with -resource managers"; then to -programs" with -program managers." Vancouver Hospital and UBC went through a nightmarish lab reform. UBC and VGH received new recruits thanks to the closure of Shaughnessy Hospital. -Chiefs of departments" at GF Strong became -professional practice leaders." -Seniors" finally got their new name of -clinical practice leaders" as -professional practice leaders" were shown the door. Today, VGH and UBC are reliving the past with another lab reform and UBC Hospital has been demoted to ‘subacute and ‘urgent care status. Richmond Hospital is facing downsizing like everyone else.

The cement on the outer wall where the name GF Strong is displayed is looking scarred from all the name changes, but at least its back to the original name and we are still open for business ... despite being declared closed at least three separate times in the media.

With all that change behind us and more to come ahead of us, theres nothing truer than this years HSA convention theme: Stronger Together.

We are stronger as part of the BC Federation of Labour and its fight-back campaign. We are strong when HSA plays a key role in the formation of the new Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat, giving us national support and a national voice.

We are stronger with the International Labour Organizations ruling against our governments violation of labour rights. Stronger thanks to our legal and labour relations team winning battles at the Labour Relations Board for proper call-back wages, the right for regional seniority for laid-off employees and other grievance successes. And were stronger for developing relationships with CEOs. and COOs ... a strategy that has worked in this region, allowing for a negotiated three-site merger with preservation of our clinical practice leaders and of one professional chief for most of our professions. That strategy also gives us input at the table where lab restructuring is again on the agenda.

And all that just in Region 4. The same stories and experiences are happening right around the province. I am proud of how working together in HSA helps to make us aware of how hard members from around the province are fighting for their professions and for our health care system, despite the devastating changes in hospitals as well as facility closures and severe downsizing in communities province-wide.

We are, indeed, stronger together!

Jenny Robertson, a physiotherapist at GF Strong/BC Rehab in Vancouver, represents Region 4 on HSAs Board of Directors.