The BC Labour Relations Board has issued a decision confirming that contractors and their employees providing non-clinical services to health care employers are entitled to access to health care facilities during a healthcare strike. The contractors had applied to the Board for common site picketing relief in anticipation of a strike by the Facilities Bargaining Association affecting hospitals and long term care facilities.
The Association argued, based on essential services principles, that only a restricted number of contractor employees should be permitted access to health care facilities during a strike. The Board rejected the Association’s position and found that there is no basis for restricting the numbers of contractor employees who may access facilities during a strike between the union and healthcare employers. The Board held that the Labour Relations Code essential services provisions do not apply to the contractors because they are not parties to the health care dispute.
The Board has ordered the parties to attend a Board mediation session on two issues:
- the point of access for contractors’ employees at each health care facility; and
- a system for monitoring contractors’ use of designated points of access.
The Board will issue an expedited decision on these two issues if the parties are unable to settle these matters in mediation.