New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) intended to support free flow of workers between western provinces in Canada
Kelowna, B.C. (Monday, June 17th): The Board of the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) held an emergency meeting today in Kelowna and approved the filing of a formal complaint to B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology regarding unfair labour mobility practices. BCCPA contends that the provincial government, through the B.C. Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry, are imposing undue and unfair restrictions on the right of Alberta care aides to practice their trade in our province, and therefore contravening the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA).
The restrictions are exacerbating the severe staffing crisis which many regions of B.C. are already experiencing.
Due in part to the restrictions enacted by the provincial government in January 2018, fully trained and certified Alberta care aides can no longer work in B.C. without first facing costly red tape. In order to work in publicly-funded care homes, Alberta care aides must pay $800 for a written examination that only allows one percent of applicants to proceed without additional courses and training—as well as requiring taking an exam in-person at the only testing site located in Vancouver.
Rustam Mann, a trained care aide from Toronto who received a job offer in the Okanagan, says he wasn’t aware of the obstacles he would have to face to work in B.C.
“I was absolutely amazed that I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400 to prepare for and get registered as a care aide in B.C. I found it extremely redundant that the study materials for the competency exams were exactly the same as what I used to get certified in Ontario,” Mann says.
“I still fail to understand why anyone within Canada moving to B.C. would have to retake an exam they have already passed in another province. It would be just as absurd to ask someone to retake their driver’s license when they are already in good standing.”
Global News Video — BCCPA files labour mobility complaint
In May, BCCPA declared a “health human resources emergency” in the Interior Health Region due to severe staffing shortages. If sufficient numbers of new staff are not recruited by July 1st, it is anticipated that many frail elderly seniors may not receive the care they need in a number of communities throughout the Interior.
“The NWPTA agreement signed by all four western provinces was supposed to help facilitate health care workers to be able to work in B.C. if they were trained in neighbouring Alberta,” says Aly Devji, Chair of the Board of Directors for the BC Care Providers Association. “Rather, the current regime contravenes the Agreement and it imposes an undue financial hardship for the care aides that want to be at the bedside for some of B.C.’s most frail and elderly citizens.”
The restrictions being placed on out-of-province care aides are not consistent with the labour mobility provisions of the NWPTA. Labour mobility requires that certified workers be able to practice their occupation in another province or territory without having to undergo significant additional training, work experience, examination or assessment, unless an exception has been posted.
No such labour mobility exception has been posted, nor has it been demonstrated that Alberta’s care aide training programs are sufficiently different from B.C. programs such that a labour mobility exception would be required. Both B.C. and Alberta have developed provincial curricula for care aides, and have established mandatory provincial registries to ensure that care aides have the education, knowledge, skills and training to care for vulnerable persons.
“We’re only a few weeks away from the deadline whereby we need government to take action to ensure we have access to adequate staff,” says Devji. “If we can’t come to an agreement by July 1st, care providers in the Interior may be required to hire Alberta trained care aides to cover off critical staff shortages, even if it means they can’t immediately be put on to the care aide registry.
“However, we remain hopeful that the government will respond in the coming weeks with some innovative solutions to this challenge.”
BCCPA has also launched an online petition asking care aides, seniors and their families to support changes to the Registry that would facilitate the hiring of certified trained workers from Alberta.
To view a copy of the complaint letter, click here.
Digital Media and Communications Specialist
About BC Care Providers Association
Established in 1977, the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) is the leading voice for B.C.’s continuing care sector. Our growing membership base includes over 340 long-term care, assisted living, home care, home support, independent living, and commercial members from across British Columbia.