Nanaimo care home sold to new owner

NANAIMO – Staff member says jobs in limbo as south-end seniors’ care home sold to new owner.

Longtime care worker Brittany Marston remembers what it was like when she first started working at Wexford Creek Care Home nearly a decade ago.

Marston began working as a care provider at the assisted living facility near Southgate Mall in 2008 when it first opened. At the time, Marston was in her early 20s and was excited to be working at a brand-new facility.

“I was putting chairs together and tables together and helping set up the entire place,” she said.

But in recent years, the excitement has turned into at times heartbreak, confusion and frustration.

In 2014, Good Samaritan Society laid off more than 120 workers, due to rising labour costs and what the society said was a lack of funding from Vancouver Island Health Authority. Many of those employees who were laid off were hired back under different employment terms and conditions, while others took pay cuts.

In April, Good Samaritan announced that it was selling Wexford Creek and would lay off the facility’s remaining 155 employees by Sept. 30.

The majority of the remaining staff members are represented by the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“I was kind of heartbroken,” Marston said. “We had done it two years before this last time as well. We took a wage cut and that first time was heartbreaking and I stuck it out as well as a lot of other people. We stuck it out for our residents and hoped for the best this year.”

Since the announcement, Marston along with all the other staff have been working in limbo and are wondering if there will be opportunities for them to get their jobs back under new ownership.

Marston also said patients at the facility are worried about what will happen after Sept. 30, adding that she, along with the other longtime staff, have formed valuable relationships with many of the patients over the years.

“They are worried that the staff members that have known them for eight years … are just going to go away on Sept. 30 and that they’ll have a new face taking care of them,” she said.

Julie Williams, director of communications for Good Samaritan Society, told the News Bulletin that the new owner is Park Place Senior Living, which was scheduled to take over the facility Aug. 23.

Williams said a transition plan is in place.

“We are committed to working with Park Place Seniors Living and our employees to ensure there is no impact on the residents,” she said.

As of Sept. 30, all 155 current employees at the facility will be out of a job unless a deal can be reached between the union and the new owner.

In a press release, Ian West, Park Place vice-president, said that Wexford Creek Seniors Community Partnership will make a decision on the staffing situation at Wexford after the takeover, adding that his organization wants to ensure a “seamless” transition for everyone.