Delta Hospital has been targeted for job action.
People scheduled for medical imaging procedures at the local hospital today (Friday, Dec. 7) were notified their appointments have been cancelled.
The Health Sciences Association (HSA), represented by the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA), which is s negotiating on its behalf, said two days of rotating strikes were to begin this Thursday and Friday at various facilities.
This was occurring despite health science professionals returning to the bargaining table with the Health Employers' Association of B.C.
Delta Hospital was targeted for job action Friday. The employees, whose contract expired March 31, haven't set up picket lines.
Pharmacists at hospitals on Thursday began the first day of job action by scaling back services for the day.
Imaging personal, who conduct x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and other imaging procedures, reduced their workload to "essential services" the following day.
"While other members of the professional health care team keep getting wage increases handed to them by government, health science professionals have been falling behind. Without them, the health care system cannot function, and our members say it's time their contribution to the modern health care team is recognized," said HSA president Reid Johnson this week.
The HSPBA collective agreement covers 16,187 employees spanning many professional and technical disciplines. Some of the other unions represented by the HSPBA include the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Professional Employees' Association, and Hospital Employees' Union.
Despite the latest turn of events, employers remain hopeful that they can soon come to an agreement with the HSPBA, the employers' association stated.
The employers announced that negotiators for health science professionals and health employers have agreed to mediation. The parties brought in mediator Vince Ready this week.
However, the two days of job action still went ahead.
Fraser Health notes health authorities, unions, and the Labour Relations Board have established essential service levels for all health care services in the province, so this is not a complete withdrawal of service.
The health region says health employers, including Fraser Health, have been working to minimize patient impact wherever possible. However, strike action by the HSPBA will result in reduced service in areas such as pharmacy and medical imaging, and means that some non-urgent, non-emergency procedures, including diagnostic imaging and surgeries, may need to be rescheduled.
Spokesperson Roy Thorpe-Dorward said the strike action would not affect urgent, emergency or cancer cases. Anyone in need of emergency care will receive the care they need without delay. Hospitals remain open as usual and otherwise it is business as usual, he explained.
He noted a 72-hour notice is required before any job action is taken and, so far, no there's been no notification of further action.
Ladner's Dave Roberts, who was to have an ultrasound at Delta Hospital, is angered that patients are being put on the front line.
"I was told all the outpatient facilities have been cancelled. If it is the union causing this, they're certainly barking up the wrong bloody tree by affecting patients," said Roberts,
Waiting a month for his test, Roberts got a call Thursday notifying him his procedure was cancelled. Fortunately, he managed to get a time slot for the next week.
"For people with conditions that are more severe than mine, maybe it represents a significant inconvenience. If the union is doing this, the public support they're going to lose is tremendous," he said.