From the Desk of the President – March 2024

As we celebrate the New Year in different ways, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a recap of all the things that have been going on at HSA since my last report.

Regional Meetings

In September and October, HSA held our regional meetings throughout the province.  It was an amazing opportunity to meet with members and hear the different issues that are of concern to you.  Staff also provided updates on the work that we’re doing, including results from membership feedback surveys and some initial discussions around the work we are doing for a new Strategic Plan for HSA.  While the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) Classification Redesign was at the top of mind for most members throughout the province, each region also has unique concerns of importance, and I valued hearing from you, both in the meetings and also during many one-on-one conversations.  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and your Regional Director at those meetings.

Lobbying in Victoria with the BCFed and HSA

In November, HSA lobbied in Victoria for a number of issues that are important to our members, including presumptive coverage under WorkSafe, shortages, and recruitment and retention, and the procurement process for Family Connection Centres that affect Children and Youth with Support Needs.  HSA members along with members of the Board of Directors met with many MLAs to bring their stories from the front-line to decision makers. The day included a lunch reception attended by MLAs from all parties.

A group of union activists standing around a circular table.
A group shot from the HSA lobby.

A few days earlier, as a member of the Executive Council of the BC Federation of Labour, I also lobbied on extending presumptive coverage to all workers, strengthening protections for workers who experience systemic racism and rights for precarious and gig economy workers. The work of the BC Fed overlaps significantly with HSA’s work and provides opportunities for HSA raise the profile of our union within government.

Meeting with the Federal Health Minister

In November, I had the opportunity to meet directly with our new Federal Health Minister, Mark Holland, and discussed with him important questions about increasing health care funding to the provinces, but also ensuring that those funds were not spent on private staffing agencies. It’s an important issue, especially at facilities outside of the large population centres, where the public sector could use those dollars to recruit more health science professionals and provide consistent and more efficient service to the public.  

Three men in suits.
L to R: Federal Health Minister Mark Holland, Kane Tse, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix.

In January, I met with the new CEO of Northern Health, Ciro Panessa, and talked about their expansion of the Go Health program to include HSPBA members to fill those shortages at facilities.  As we build upon that relationship, we will work together to find solutions within the framework of the Ministry of Health’s Human Health Resources Strategy.

HSPBA Classification Redesign

A significant part of what was negotiated in our last collective agreement for HSPBA (Health Sciences Professional Bargaining Association) was an overhaul of the nearly 50-year classification system.  As our jobs in healthcare have changed over time and the number of professions that HSA represents has increased from 12 to nearly 70, the classification system has not kept up, and this has left many professions on unequal footing when it comes to the different levels of how jobs should be classified.

By putting all the professions into a uniform framework, this will benefit members in the future, as classification grievances will be simpler to resolve without always having to proceed to arbitration.

I want to acknowledge all the hard work that has been put in by stewards, staff, as well as you, the members, during the review process. With around 16,000 members across the province receiving job descriptions and the profile match, this work could not have been done without your participation and help, and we are now proceeding with addressing the objections and full implementation of the new classification system.

West Coast Medical Imaging

While many of our bargaining units in the public sector (HSPBA, Community Bargaining Association (CBA), Community Social Services (CSSEA) and the Nurses Bargaining Association (NBA)) have agreements in-place until 2025, HSA members working at West Coast Medical Imaging (WCMI) are just now heading to the bargaining table. Just as the pandemic has impacted the acute, long-term and community care systems, it has had an impact on these members as well.  We have a strong bargaining committee:  Mona Bati and Denise Danel from the Lower Mainland, and Stephanie Tolias and Fareeha Yousuf from Victoria, supported by staff negotiators Alyson Warner and John Hindle, at the table with a mandate from members to get best deal possible.

Six smiling people wearing HSA t-shirts or scarves.
The WCMI bargaining committee.

OH&S Conference

In early February, HSA held its OH&S HSA conference.  Put together by the OH&S Committee along with OH&S staff, this conference contained two days worth of speakers and seminars packed with great information on a variety of OH&S topics.  We heard about controlling exposures to environmental hazards in the workplace to mental health and dealing with stressors, and panels on the intersectionality of OH&S and EDI and Women in Safety Leadership.

BCFed Ranking Officers’ Meeting

Every year, the BC Federation of Labour’s Ranking Officers meets at CLC Winter School to set our priorities for the year ahead.  We reviewed the successes that we’ve achieved over the past year, taken a critical look at where we need to improve and use our collective power better, and determine what the BC Fed can accomplish in 2024.

We had educational sessions on climate change, sectoral bargaining, and the gig economy; we held a brainstorming session with the Premier’s office, and we heard directly from  Premier David Eby and with Labour Minister Harry Bains.  With a provincial election in October 2024, I emphasized the recruitment and retention challenges that continue to create shortages in both health care and community social services,  and  the need to combat privatization in health care and Child Development Centres through Family Connection Centres pilot program.

Two smiling men.
Kane Tse with Premier David Eby during the BCFed Ranking Officers meeting.

We also talked about the government’s Anti-Racism Data Collection act, and the BC Fed’s efforts to push for more robust Anti-Racism legislation and building it into WorkSafeBC policies.  The BC Fed works on many issues, and rest assured that it is continuing to advocate for issues that HSA members care about, including: the toxic drug crisis, affordable housing, expanding $10/day childcare, providing workforce housing and childcare on site, free parking at every health care facility, and addressing issues important to young workers so they have hope and stay within the province, to name a few.

Canadian Health Coalition Lobbying in Ottawa

HSA lobbied in Ottawa on Parliament Hill with the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC).  I want to thank the members of our Political Action Committee who joined with union members and health care advocates from across the country to talk with MPs about the important of universal Pharmacare, a dental care plan, addressing the staffing crisis in the care economy, and stopping privatization of services.  The CHC was thrilled to have HSA participate, and invited HSA pharmacists Jing-Yi Ng and Kieran Shoker to speak to the media about the importance of a universal Pharmacare program, who were featured on Global National television news.  A national Pharmacare program will make an impact not only on the health of Canadians, but also reduce ER visits and staffing shortages.

Health-care workers push for national pharmacare plan | (

In only my second year of participating in the CHC lobby, HSA continues to make an impact at the National level and along with Vice-President Mandi Ayers (Region 10) and Secretary-Treasurer Jing-Yi Ng (Region 3), we acted as lobby team captains for lobbyists meeting with MPs.  Also joining us to lobby were Sarah Kooner (Region 7 director), Ron Regier (Surrey Memorial Hospital) and Kieran Shoker (BC Cancer Prince George) from our Political Action Committee along with staff members Nicole Seguin and Katie Riecken.

A group of HSA activists in front of the parliament building.
HSA members and staff at the Canadian Health Coalition lobby in Ottawa.

Preparing for Convention 2024

As the calendar turned over to January, HSA's Board of Directors, committees, and steward teams turned our focus to HSA's Annual Convention, coming up May 1 to 3.  Chapters meetings to submit resolutions and elect delegates for Convention were held through February to early March. As I write this report, we already have more than 400 delegates registered for Convention. Both the Board and I are looking forward to hearing the debate on your resolutions.  I always look forward to our conventions. It’s a great chance to meet with  other HSA members from across the province, meeting other people who work in your profession at other sites, or even those who don’t. There are so many interesting professions within HSA and I’ve found that despite our differences, we can still have hours of conversation and make great friends.  And there are lots of HSA members who are amazing activists too; I have received a lot of great advice on how to make the union more active and stronger at our workplace.

Finally, I would like to wish “Ramadan Mubarak” to members who observe the holy month of Ramadan which started on March 10 and goes until April 9, during which many Muslims engage in fasting, worship, community service, and gatherings with loves ones. The festival of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is a time of joy and celebration. My experience with Ramadan is limited, but for several years, I rented a basement suite from a Muslim family. They welcomed us into their traditions that included breaking their fast with family, known as Iftar.

In the same spirit, please spend time with your family and stay safe and healthy and always take care of your mental health. Your important role in BC’s health care and community social services systems needs you at your best.

See you at Convention.