Union says it will oppose sale of B.C. retirement homes to firm with links to China

Retirement Concepts owns 24 retirement facilities, mostly in B.C.

The union representing 250 workers at a Parksville retirement home says it will ask the federal and provincial governments to reject the sale of the facility to a Chinese insurance company.

As reported in The NEWS on Tuesday, Retirement Concepts said it is entering into a “partnership” with a company called Cedar Tree, which is linked Anbang Insurance Group of China. Retirement Concepts owns 24 retirement facilities, mostly in B.C., including Stanford Place in Parksville and The Gardens at Qualicum Beach.

Retirement Concepts president and CEO Azim Jamal said The Gardens at Qualicum Beach is not part of this new partnership. Stanford Place in Parksville has 234 residents. Jamal said Retirement Concepts will continue to operate and manage the facilities and there would be “no change to our staff and leadership team, both at the community and corporate level.”

There were reports the sale price could be as high as $1 billion, which means it may require approval from federal and provincial governments.

“Residential care and assisted living services are a critical part of the continuum of care in this province,” Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside said Tuesday. “Selling B.C. seniors’ care facilities to an offshore insurance company is not in the interests of B.C. health care workers, seniors, or our health care system. Allowing this sale to proceed would represent a major loss of accountability and control over the provision of seniors’ care. And it would send a clear signal to global investors that seniors’ care and other health services in this province are for sale to the highest bidder. Unfettered foreign investment in our health care system is the wrong direction for British Columbians.”

Whiteside also said Retirement Concepts currently controls more than 10 per cent of residential care beds contracted by B.C.’s health authorities — more than any other non-profit or for-profit provider.

“At this time, it appears these plans would not affect the day-to-day operations of Retirement Concepts or the collective agreements under which HEU members are working,” said Whiteside. “But clearly, this sale raises serious questions about broader accountability in our health care system.”

Whiteside said the union will be intervening to oppose the sale.

The NEWS asked Retirement Concepts CEO Jamal for a comment about the HEU’s opposition to the sale.

“Our focus is on this transaction and are currently engaged in the regulatory process,” said Jamal. “Out of respect for that process, it would be inappropriate to comment any further until that process concludes.”

The HEU represents nearly 1,900 members at 12 Retirement Concepts locations in B.C., including about 250 at Stanford Place and 150 at The Gardens.

Whiteside said the B.C. government has the regulatory power to refuse to issue a license to residential care facilities that have been sold. Health authorities may also have the power to review and reject the sale of care facilities under the terms of their commercial contracts with providers like Retirement Concepts, she said.

Whiteside said the HEU will urge federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to reject the sale.

The Globe and Mail reported Monday the deal is currently under the scrutiny of the federal government’s Investment Review Division. The Globe also reported that Retirement Concepts is the highest-billing provider of assisted living and residential care services in the province. The Globe said B.C. government paid the company $86.5-million in the 2015-16 fiscal year, more than any other of the 130 similar providers.

Just Posted

Small homeless camp removed at Horth Hill Regional Park in North Saanich

CRD staff say the camp is not connected to Camp Namegans in Goldstream

Cool Aid Society cleans up Woodwynn Farms

Casual labour pool helps to clear debris

Victoria police searching for missing 18-year-old

Austin Bennett-Frechette is known to frequent the Greater Victoria Public Library

Recent rash of thefts in Sidney similar to past sprees

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP warn residents to lock their vehicles

Lawyer questions rejection of visitors to Goldstream homeless campers

Activist Chrissy Brett says they are still in fear of being kicked out

UrbaCity raises record-breaking $70,000 for Island Prostate Centre

240 racers, corporate sponsors fill the coffers for the cause

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

Most Read