News

Sun setting on Sunridge staff

Sunridge Place undergoes an ownership change next week, but questions remain unanswered about staffing issues.

Sunridge made headlines in February when the Duncan seniors’ care home’s ownership group announced it was laying off all 264 employees effective June 2 in preparation for a sale.

June 2 arrives Monday, and it remains unclear who has been rehired, who has been let go and how big the new staff will be. What is clear is the management shuffle has been more complicated than a straight handoff, and Sunridge employees will not be members of a union.

“As far as we’re aware, the last shift our workers will work is June 2,’’ said Mike Old, communications director for the Hospital Employees’ Union.

Old said a similar ownership change at New Horizons in Campbell River in December, with CareCorp as the new service provider, resulted in workers being brought in from the Lower Mainland and the Interior to fill the void.

“I’m not sure if that’s the same fate that awaits Sunridge Place or not,’’ said Old. “The signs aren’t looking good.

“There’s no question the changeover is going to be disruptive as far as continuity of care issues. Our experience at New Horizons, that has basically gone through the same thing, is a few of our members were hired back, but some of them weren’t. The wages offered were lowered.’’

Sunridge executive director Laura Griffin did not respond to a News Leader Pictorial enquiry by press time.

Ian West is senior vice-president (operations) for Park Place Seniors Living, which has a stake in the new ownership group.

He confirmed CareCorp has been selected to be the Sunridge service provider and therefore the employer. It assumes its contract with the current ownership June 2.

The sale to Sunridge Seniors Community Partnership, the legal name of the company purchasing the facility, could take effect as early as the next day.

“Once the sale is finalized, the new owner will then assume all service agreements with vendors, including the one signed by the current owner with CareCorp,’’ West said. “The sale of Sunridge Place is a separate and distinct process that has nothing directly to do with the current employer’s decision to cease being the employer.’’

CareCorp has the service contract to provide staff.

Brandy Lee Williams commented on the News Leader Pictorial’s Facebook page that she received a call from a CareCorp rep and was not offered her job back.

“I have been a loyal employee of Sunridge for (more than) three years, only missing work for illness of myself or my children,’’ she stated. “Anyways, it would appear that the former employees that I have heard from so far that have not been hired back have all been off on WCB.

“I am a single mother who now has no job to return to come June the third and I feel extremely discriminated against.’’

Old said all but a few registered nurses were unionized on the staff at the time layoff notices were issued.

They would have to reapply at some point for union affiliation again, if desired, and go through the probationary process.

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