Shortage of Home Support Workers Made Worse by Interior Health’s Scheduling Program

UFCW 1518 is calling on Interior Health to re-examine its decision of reducing care times and to change its scheduling program to ensure home support workers can provide the critical care that clients need.

After reading an article published on Kamloops This Week about Carrie McAstocker, a 59-year old quadriplegic woman who missed home support visits to help her get to bed and prepare her meals, UFCW 1518 members are angry, but not surprised. These are the types of stories that have been shared by UFCW 1518 members to Interior Health in the hopes that changes can be made to ensure clients get the proper care they need.

However, no action has been taken; instead, changes to home support workers’ schedules have exacerbated this issue.

Kamloops-based Union Representative, Ed Cabral, describes how Interior Health has worsened conditions of health care shortages and has made the work less appealing for home support workers. “There is very little to almost no full-time work for home support workers at Interior Health and it has implemented a new change in scheduling. Part-time home support workers used to have set days where they are able to take on additional part-time work during their off days, which gives them the ability to make ends meet. With the new rotating schedules, workers no longer have set days, so they are unable to take on another job.”

To make matters worse, many home support workers who are predominately women of colour are struggling to find childcare to ensure their own children are being looked after while they work. “Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of daycare centres that can accommodate rotating schedules.” Ed Cabral adds, “So once again, these workers are burdened with trying to figure out how to make ends meet while trying to find the support they need for their own kids.”

Meeting the needs of clients has been challenging as the province deals with health care worker shortages. Many workers who have taken on the burden from these shortages have expressed feeling burnt out and underappreciated.

Care times have also been reduced for each client, causing a decline in care. Home support workers are puzzled as to how Interior Health came up with the decision to reduce care times considering the work involved has not changed. With shorter care times, home support workers are rushing, which can lead to hazards and risks for both clients and workers.

“Home support work used to be a good, respected job. I’ve been at this job for years. Now, many don’t want to stay at this job,” (name withheld) a home support worker stated.

Interior Health has the ability to change the allotment of care times and its scheduling program. While Vancouver Island Health Authority has the same staff shortage and scheduling issues of its own, home support workers within that jurisdiction do not have to deal with rotational scheduling.

UFCW 1518’s request is not just for home support workers; this request ensures that clients, like Carrie McAstocker, receive the proper care they need, especially at a time when people are dealing with a brutal heat wave. As explained by a UFCW 1518 member, Interior Health “needs to be client-centred, not Interior Health-centred.”

By listening and working with its employees, Interior Health has the opportunity to create a workplace where it can retain home support workers who are passionate about their jobs. And with the shortage of health care workers across the province, it would be unwise not to.

You can read UFCW 1518’s letter to Interior Health here.

Workers at Trees Cannabis Vote to Join the BC Budtenders’ Union

Budtenders and Supervisors at the Trees Cannabis retail locations in Victoria, BC (Lekwungen Territory) have voted to join the BC Budtenders’ Union, and UFCW Local 1518.

As the cannabis industry adapts to legalization, and the business model changes, this is a critical time to shape how the industry will look for workers. Trees Cannabis has been at the forefront of change in this industry, and we know that improvements that we make to working conditions here will have a ripple effect on Victoria’s other cannabis retail businesses that have always followed close behind.

As budtenders, we want to be compensated for the skilled labour we provide. The costs of living in this city have skyrocketed, and it is becoming unreasonable to afford to live in Victoria. At the same time, there is a worry that as new business interests enter BC’s cannabis industry, they will push down wages and working conditions.

“We are required to have a deep understanding of the cannabis plant, and must provide compassionate customer service,” Kate, a Trees Cannabis supervisor, explained. “Working as a budtender is skilled and professional work. All budtenders should be paid a living wage, receive ongoing education, and have the collective bargaining power to shape how our work is done.”

Many of us were a part of this industry during the legacy market eras. We feel a strong connection to this work and the industry that was built from our labour. The cannabis sector has been largely represented by marginalized communities who risked criminal records in exchange for higher-wage work. Now that we see the legalization of the industry, it is incredibly important to us that budtending is safe for all workers, including the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities that make up the workforce, and properly accommodates and includes workers with various accessibility requirements.

At Trees Cannabis, budtenders and supervisors spent weeks having conversations amongst each other about the benefits of joining a union and voted in favour on June 18th, 2021. Trees Cannabis workers are looking forward to legally protected job security, access to education and benefits, and earning living wages so that there is a future in this industry that we can look forward to.

Approved by the Trees Workers’ Organizing Committee


More and more budtenders are joining the BC Bud Union. Budtenders and cannabis-industry workers interested in winning improvements at their workplace can learn more and join at ufcw1518.com/cannabis.

Improved Vacation Allotment and Wage Increases for Workers at Cherry Park Retirement Residence

In Penticton, BC, 100% of the Cherry Park Retirement Residence workers voted in favour of ratifying their new agreement that includes improved vacation allotment and wage increases.

Susan Sampson and Cindy Ferguson, who make up the Bargaining Committee, did a remarkable job ensuring that members get the improvements and increases they deserve.

The new contract has several changes, which include:
1.     wage increases;
2.     an improved vacation allotment and threshold; and
3.     domestic violence leave.

UFCW 1518 is in the process of finalizing a copy of the new agreement, which will be shared with the members at Cherry Park Retirement Residence as soon as it is available. Congratulations to the members on your new agreement!

If you are interested in learning how you can join a union and fight for better working conditions, go to ufcw1518.com/join-us.

Rossdown Natural Foods Workers Secure Wage Increases and Improved Benefits in New Agreement

UFCW 1518 members at Rossdown Natural Foods in Abbotsford, BC have ratified a new agreement that includes wage increases and benefit improvements.

The Bargaining Committee, comprised of Manjinder Brar, Sukhwinder Sekhon and Jasleen Sandhu, did an incredible job with this agreement and it proved to be popular as 89.6% of members voted to ratify the agreement.

The new contract has several changes, which include:

  • Wage increases,
  • Improved benefits,
  • Scheduling language, and
  • Premium increases.

UFCW 1518 is in the process of finalizing a copy of the new agreement, which will be shared with the members at Rossdown as soon as it is available.

If you are an industrial food processing worker and you are interested in joining a union and fighting for fairness, you can learn more about UFCW 1518 at ufcw1518.com/join-us.