Courtenay assisted living workers go on strike for wages

Casa Loma Seniors Village on strike after rejecting two agreements from their employers

Casa Loma Seniors Village workers have hit the picket lines in hopes of fair wages and benefits.

The assisted living facility is owned by Retirement Concepts, a company managed by Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management. The facility is part of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

According to Doreen Smith, BCGEU staff representative and negotiator, the company consistently pays some of the lowest wages in the Valley and across the Island.

“The members are standing in solidarity in order to improve healthcare for those seniors that are within the facilities,” she said. “This is our first day. We’re doing just a couple jabs at the employer through the assisted living site – very short and sweet just to say we’re serious and we’re hoping that the employer will come to the plate with a better deal.”

According to Smith, 93 per cent of union workers voted in favour of a strike after an agreement and a mediated agreement from Pacific Reach were both turned down by union workers.

According to Danielle Marchand, press secretary with BCGEU, Casa Loma is seeing recruitment issues brought on by low wages.

“Casa Loma is facing persistent staffing shortages and recruitment and retention issues because of that wage and benefit gap,” she said. “What they’re asking for in their contract is to close the gap between people and themselves who do the same work in other types of facilities.”

The agreements differ for each Retirement Concept location, and Casa Loma is the only facility on strike. In the Comox Valley, the Comox Valley Seniors Village is also owned by Retirement Concepts.

Throughout the rotating strikes, workers will continue to ensure residents’ essential needs are met.

“As emergencies might arise on the site, we have the healthcare workers here who are willing to go back in and do the jobs that are essential care,” said Smith.

Retirement Concepts was not available for comment on Sunday.

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