11/04/2012 07:41 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Burnaby care home privatization worries residents

A group of veterans and their families are concerned about the quality of care at a Burnaby, B.C., care home that is laying off its unionized staff in order to privatize.

About 90 employees who work in food services, housekeeping and activity centres at the George Derby Centre are slated to lose their jobs.

Resident Dennis Scott-Jackson says the centre is clean, comfortable and caring.

"We have the best care facility in Canada here, bar none, and they are going to try and destroy that," he said.

"The men and women here are like sons and daughters to me and I'm going to lose them."

Judy Walker, the daughter of an 88-year-old resident, worries the quality of care will decline.

"Most of the people here need a lot of round-the-clock care," she said. "I'm concerned about cleanliness and about food quality. These are veterans and they deserve to have that quality of life."

'They should fund it'

Officials say the cuts are meant to improve care for an increasingly fragile group of seniors.

"We’ve actually been contracting out over the last three to four years and we identified the need to continue to contract out so that we can maintain or even improve the quality of care that we give our residents," said executive director Janice Mitchell.

"All of the savings that we expect to achieve will be put directly towards increasing the hours of nursing care and personal care that our residents receive."

The Fraser Health Authority provided $16.7 million in funding to the centre this year.

The amount of funding the centre receives has been increasing over the past few years, but so have the needs of patients and the expected standards of care.

"The fact of the matter is if they think they need to improve direct patient care hours, they should fund it," said Mike Old with the Hospital Employees’ Union.

"They shouldn't get it by firing women and men who've worked here, in some cases for 20 to 30 years with these veterans."

The new staff is expected to start in April.