Finance Minister Carole James has 180 union contracts expiring in March 2019. (Hansard TV)

BCGEU health care members ratify three-year deal

Wage increase of two per cent a year for 16,000 employees

Members of a multi-union group working in B.C. community living homes and services have voted to accept a new three-year employment contract, eight months before the existing contract expires.

The contract covers 16,000 people and was recommended to members in June by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and others in the community health bargaining group.

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said the agreement also provides improved benefits and scheduling and employee security improvements

The B.C. finance ministry said in a statement the agreement includes targeted funding of $40 million to “close existing wage gaps and address staff turnover between community health and facilities occupations.”

The targeted funding is expected to improve continuity of care for people in private, group and residential community living homes, employment programs, child development centres, adult day programs, mental health centres and community service agencies.

The BCGEU reached a similar agreement in June on behalf of 26,500 public service employees, including sheriffs at provincial courthouses and employees of the Liquor Distribution Branch.

RELATED: Sheriffs, liquor employees reach deal

The current agreement expires in March 2019, one of 180 provincial union contracts that are coming up for renewal. There are more than 422,000 employees in the B.C. public service and its agencies, with 326,000 represented by unions.

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