Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The 2011/12 Labour Games in BC - Featuring Anesthesiologists

This issue seems to be moving so fast today as to make my head spin. I came across the following headline this afternoon:
B.C. Government's $2.5-million Surprise Announcement Called Game-Playing

The government apparently has tried to end the bitter dispute with anesthesiologists by offering $2.5 million for dedicated obstetric services at Victoria General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Unfortunately, it appears that the government decided that the deal hashed out with the BCMA did not need the involvement of the anesthesiologists. As a result, the anesthesiologists were not even aware of the pending announcement.

Consequently the move is seen as game-playing by the anesthesiologists.

I think there's merit to the game-playing accusation. The issue has been ongoing for years (since 2009/10 at least) and it does appear that this latest pronouncement is in response to pending job action. I also think the anesthesiologists have a right to be unhappy with the negotiating environment. The fact that what is ostensibly a union could negotiate the terms and conditions of employment without input from the individuals it claims to represent - is a bit disturbing. It is more disturbing when that same group has been begging for its own voice for years.

Unfortunately, I think this means that I'll have to hold off on the celebratory champagne - as I've got a gut feeling that as a result of the game playing by the BCMA and the government that it might be a while before DOBA becomes a reality. I feel the announcement, particularly the timing of it and the way the deal was reached, might well inflame the situation further. This is no olive branch.

The real losers of all this game playing of course, are the women, particularly those who want and need medical services (c-sections and epidurals) during labour and delivery and have those services delayed or denied as a result.

I hope I'm wrong, the women and patients of BC deserve better - they should not have to pay the very painful price in this dispute.

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