Council opposes sell-off of Oak Bay Lodge

Oak Bay council motion to keep seniors' care home publicly owned passes unanimously

BURNABY, BC, March 23 /CNW/ - Oak Bay council passed a motion last night to support keeping Oak Bay Lodge in public hands instead of selling it off as the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) plans to do this spring.

"I congratulate Oak Bay Council for responding to the community and taking a strong stand for keeping public seniors' care in Oak Bay," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker.

"Now, with the support of council, this community has sent a clear message to VIHA that seniors' care is too important to be sold-off to the highest bidder."

The BCGEU was blind-sided by VIHA's surprise announcement October 13, 2009 of its intention to privatize this long-standing seniors' care facility. Walker says the decision was made without prior consultation with the Lodge's staff, residents or families, and was in response to the $45 million budget shortfall downloaded from the provincial government.

"The planned privatization of the Lodge creates uncertainty for everyone - seniors and their families, the workers at the facility and the community. And privatizing seniors care will not save government money," says Walker.

"Stable seniors' care drives costs down by keeping seniors out of expensive hospital acute care beds. Government and the health authority should be looking for ways to improve the facility at Oak Bay Lodge rather than take it out of public hands and sell it off."

VIHA is currently evaluating bids from five private operators and is expected to award the contract by early April.

Oak Bay Lodge is a 247-bed residential care facility employing approximately 290 staff.

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information: For further information: Erin Sikora, Communications Officer, (604) 291-9611

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